Olathe, Kansas, shooting suspect 'said he killed Iranians'

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Adam Purinton appears in court.Image source, AP
Image caption,
Witnesses say Adam Purinton shouted "get out of my country" before opening fire

A man arrested last week for shooting two Indians at a Kansas bar allegedly told a barmaid he had just opened fire on some "Iranian people".

Adam Purinton, 51, fled the scene of the attack at a pub in Olathe and went to a restaurant where he confided in a staff member, police say.

He was arraigned in court on Monday with first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder.

The accused wore a safety smock to prevent him from harming himself.

Police say he shot and killed Srinivas Kuchibholta at a pub on Wednesday evening.

Media caption,
Widow's worry: "Hate crimes will be more open now"

He allegedly fired on Mr Kuchibhotla and his friend Alok Madasani, two 32-year-old Indian men who worked as engineers at GPS-maker Garmin.

Mr Kuchibhotla died and Mr Madasani survived. A third patron, 24-year-old Ian Grillot, was wounded trying to intervene.

The FBI is investigating whether the shooting constitutes a hate crime.

After the attack at Austins Bar and Grill, the suspect, who is white, drove 70 miles (112km) to an Applebee's in Clinton, Missouri, where he allegedly admitted what he had done to an employee.

Broken hearts in Olathe - Rajini Vaidyanathan, BBC News North America

On Saturday at 11am, the doors of Austin Bar and Grill reopened, after a fatal shooting which has shaken people here in Olathe and beyond.

"We've come back to show we won't let the attacker change our way of life," said one patron who'd turned up.

Austins is your regular local bar in a strip mall. It serves the usual diet of fried food and beers, with sport on big screens. But, Austins is now also the place which robbed one man of his life, and left two others injured.

As Alok Madasani sat in pain in his living room, nursing an injury caused by the bullet which struck his thigh, he told me how he and Srinivas were so well known at the bar the staff knew how much ice they took in their drinks.

Until that fateful night, he said he'd never heard anyone use overtly racist language in Olathe. And many other Indians I met at a vigil on Friday night echoed that sentiment.

They said Olathe has always been a friendly and welcoming place. One man said he hoped this tragedy was a "one-off", and that the show of support here would help heal the many hearts, which have been broken.

In a 911 call, a bartender, Sam Suida, told the police dispatcher a man had come into the bar and said he'd done something "really bad" and that he was on the run.

"He asked if he could stay with me and my husband, and he wouldn't tell me what he did," she says on a recording of the call.

"I kept asking him, and he said that he would tell me if I agreed to let him stay with me.

"Well, I finally got him to tell me and he said, like, that he shot and killed two Iranian people in Olathe."

Media caption,
"He asked us if we were in the US legally"

The shooting drew worldwide attention and has gripped the Indian-American community.

Hillary Clinton weighed in on the matter on Twitter on Monday, demanding President Donald Trump speak out against intolerance following the shooting.

"With threats & hate crimes on rise, we shouldn't have to tell @POTUS to do his part. He must step up & speak out," the former Democratic presidential candidate tweeted.

Mr Trump has yet to comment, but his press secretary, Sean Spicer, said on Monday that early reports on the Kansas shooting were "disturbing".

Media caption,
Kansas shooting 'hero' counted the gunman's shots

Witnesses said the suspect shouted "get out of my country" before shots rang out.

Mr Madasani told the BBC the gunman had demanded to know if they were in the country legally.

The suspect is being held in the Johnson County Jail on a bond of $2m (£1.6m).

His next court appearance is on 9 March.