A little more than a week after a shooter in Olathe, Kan., fatally wounded Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla, the Indian American community responded by holding vigils for the victim.
At least two vigils were held, one in Riverside, Calif., and another in Ohio, to remember Kuchibhotla, who was killed Feb. 22 in an apparent hate crime.
Authorities arrested Navy veteran Adam Purinton, 51, and charged him with first degree and attempted first degree murder charges.
Indian American engineer and friend of Kuchibhotla Alok Madasani, as well as Ian Grillot, who intervened during the attack, suffered injuries not considered life-threatening.
The Global Organization of People of Indian Origin organized the March 5 Riverside event, located at the Gandhi statue.
Roughly 100 people came to show solidarity and support against hate crimes and racism.
Kranti Shalia opened the vigil with a speech, followed by Kavipriya Muthuramalingam. Shalia and Muthuramalingam worked with Kuchibhotla at Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
"The world lost a brilliant, loving and wonderful person on Feb. 22. We lost an angel. We cannot and never will be able to comprehend this senseless act of hatred," Muthuramalingam said in her speech. "We truly hope justice will be served and in future no one should ever face this tragic end. Our hearts go out to our friend Alok Madasani as he copes through this period of immeasurable grief and we are always there for him. We sincerely thank and salute Ian Grillot, a true hero who risked his own life to stand up for what is right."
Kuchibhotla and Madasani both worked at Rockwell Collins and left to work at GPS maker Garmin in Olathe. Following work Feb. 22, the two went to Austins Bar and Grill where they were allegedly targeted by Purinton who reportedly shouted, "Get out of my country" before shooting.
Other people at the GOPIO-hosted vigil were local dignitaries including Riverside police chief Sergio Diaz, who spoke in support of the event while condemning hate crimes.
At the Ohio vigil, held just outside the statehouse and hosted by the Federation of Indian Associations of Ohio, Indian American state Rep. Niraj Antani, a Republican representing the 42nd district, spoke to the dozens of community members in attendance.
"We must stand together as an Indian American community after this tragedy," he said. "We remember the victim's family and all of our fellow community members in Kansas during this difficult time."
Days after the Feb. 22 shooting, the FBI, which is conducting an investigation in conjunction with the Olathe police, said it will proceed to investigate it as a hate crime.
Many Indian American organizations and politicians have condemned the crime, and in his Feb. 28 speech to Congress, President Donald Trump joined the sentiment saying, “(The Feb. 22) shooting in (Olathe, Kan.) reminds us that while we may be a nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms."
A vigil planned for March 5 in Palo Alto was rescheduled to March 12, an organizer told India-West. Another vigil was to have been held March 2 in Sacramento, though organizers from that event did not return emails from India-West.