A man in the US state of Kansas has been charged with killing an engineer from India and wounding two other people. Federal authorities are investigating whether the shooting was a hate crime.
A 51-year-old white man was charged with one count of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder on Friday after a shooting at a bar in the Midwestern US state of Kansas two days previously.
The suspect, Adam Purinton, is accused of killing 32-year-old Srinivas Kuchibhotla (pictured above) and wounding 32-year-old Alok Madasani, both Indian nationals who worked as engineers for GPS manufacturer Garmin.
Purinton is also accused of shooting 24-year-old Ian Grillot, who was wounded while trying to intervene during the shooting at Austins Bar and Grill in Olathe, Kansas, on Wednesday.
Witnesses told the "Kansas City Star" newspaper that the gunman yelled "get out of my country" before opening fire on the two Indian men and fleeing the scene.
Hours later, Purinton reportedly told a bartender in another town that he killed two Middle Eastern men and needed a place to hide, the paper reported.
The FBI has said it is looking into whether the shooting was a hate crime - an official term for crimes that are motivated by bias or prejudice. Local authorities have declined to comment on the shooter's possible motivations.
Around 400 people gathered at a church in Olathe for a candlelight vigil on Friday night to honor Kuchibhotla.
'Do we belong here?'
Kuchibhotla's widow, Sunayana Dumala, told a news conference on Friday that the gunman "has taken a life, a very lovable soul, from everyone."
She said she had expressed worries about gun violence in the United States to her husband but that he had reassured her by saying, "Good things happen in America." She added that she wondered: "Do we belong here?"
"I need an answer from the government," she said. "What are they going to do to stop this hate crime?"
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer responded to questions about the Kansas shooting on Friday, saying that any loss of life was tragic but that it would be absurd to tie the killing to Trump's rhetoric.
Three GoFundMe campaigns to raise money to help pay for expenses for Kuchibhotla, Madasani and Grillot have raised over $670,000 (634,379 euros) in just a few days.
India 'shocked' by shooting
The deadly shooting dominated the news in India and sparked outrage on social media, where some wondered whether US President Donald Trump's rhetoric on immigration and jobs had fed into a climate of intolerance.
Pratik Mathur, spokesman for the Indian embassy in Washington, said India had expressed "our deep concern over the incident" to the US government and requested a "thorough and speedy investigation."
India's Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj tweeted that she was "shocked at the shooting incident in Kansas." She also said that Indian embassy officials had "rushed to Kansas" to assess the situation.
The Hindu American Foundation also condemned the shooting, demanding that it be investigated as a hate crime.
"Anything less will be an injustice to the victims and their families," the group said.
rs/tj (AP, AFP, Reuters)