Three separate shootings have raised worries among Indians and other communities about possible violence against foreign workers in the United States. The senseless shooting of two technology workers from India and another man at a bar in Olathe, Kansas made national headlines. The victims, Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani, both engineers employed by Garmin were at Austins Bar & Grill in Olathe.
A witness says Adam Purinton, 51, became agitated by the presence of the two men and was asked to leave by regular patron Ian Grillot. Purinton left but returned a short time later and approached Kuchibhotla and Madasani. He opened fire, yelling “Get out of my country!” Kuchibhotla was killed and Madasani was wounded. Grillot, who was shot in the hand and chest, was praised as a hero for attempting to intervene and subdue the suspect during the shooting.
Purinton was arrested hours later at an Applebee’s restaurant in Clinton, Missouri, about 70 miles away from Olathe. Applebee’s employees called 911 and an Applebee’s bartender told police that a man had admitted to shooting two “Iranian” people in Olathe and was looking for a place to hide. Purinton faces one first degree murder charge and two charges of attempted first degree murder.
Another shooting occurred in Lancaster, South Carolina when 43 year old Harnish Patel was shot and killed in front of his home. Patel was killed after returning home from working at the Speedee Mart convenience store, which he owned. Patel had lived in the United States for 14 years. He was married and had one child in elementary school. He was originally from the Indian state of Gujarat. Police are still looking for the shooter.
Police are investigating a third shooting that occurred in Kent, Washington. The shooting of Deep Rai, a 39-year-old Sikh man, was shot while cleaning his car in his driveway. The victim’s family said a man approached and began calling him names, telling him, “Go home to your country!” The shooter then pushed him to the ground and shot him in the arm.
The victim lost consciousness and only realized he’d been shot when he regained consciousness in the hospital. He was released the next day and is expected to make a full recovery. Rai is a U.S. citizen originally from Punjab, India. Rai became the fourth Indian man to be shot within the last few weeks in the United States. All of the shootings are being investigated as possible hate crimes.
The Sikh Coalition said members of its community are at heightened risk of hate-crime attacks -partially because their faith requires the wearing of turbans and beards. In a statement, spokesman Rajdeep Singh said it’s important the Kent shooting be investigated as a hate crime. “While we appreciate the efforts of state and local officials to respond to attacks like this, we need our national leaders to make hate crime prevention a top priority,” he said. “Tone matters in our political discourse, because this is a matter of life or death for millions of Americans who are worried about losing loved ones to hate.”
“The Sikh community is shaken and very frustrated at the hate and rhetoric that is being spread today about anyone that looks different, who looks like an immigrant.”