Suspect In Kansas Bar Shooting Of Indians Apparently Thought They Were Iranians

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Suspect In Kansas Bar Shooting Of Indians Apparently Thought They Were Iranians

Kansas shooting suspect Adam Purinton, 51, could potentially face the death penalty.

Less than five hours after a man shot up a Kansas bar, killing one Indian man and injuring two others in an apparently racially motivated attack, an Applebee's bartender 70 miles away made a 911 call.

The woman on the phone told the dispatcher that a man had come into her bar and told her he "had done something really bad and he was on the run from the police."

The man wouldn't tell her what he did, but kept asking her to allow him to stay at her house. The bartender persisted, convincing him to tell her what he did. "He said he shot and killed two Iranian people in Olathe," the bartender said.

She read the news and sure enough, noticed that a few hours earlier, a shooting had taken place in Olathe, a city about 20 miles southwest of Kansas City. Her 911 call, later released by a local television station, led authorities to locate Adam Purinton, 51, of Olathe, late Wednesday night and take him into custody. The phone call recording supports witness statements that the bar shooter thought the two men, Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani, were of Middle Eastern descent.

The two men - actually Indian nationals who work for Garmin, the technology firm -received master's degrees in the United States. Kuchibhotla died from his injuries Wednesday and Madasani was released from the hospital the following day.

Authorities have not called the shooting a hate crime, instead saying they are investigating to see if it was motivated by bias. But witnesses reported that Purinton hurled racial slurs at the two men and told them "Get out of my country." The shooting stirred anger and fear in India and among the South Asia diaspora in the U.S., prompting some to link it to xenophobia spurred by the Trump campaign.

On Monday, Hillary Clinton tweeted that the president should "step up and speak out." She shared a link to a story about the Kansas shooting, and said "With threats & hate crimes on rise, we shouldn't have to tell @Potus to do his part."

Purinton, who faces charges of first-degree murder and first- degree attempted murder, made his first court appearance Monday via closed-circuit television from the Johnson County jail. He was seen wearing what a sheriff's department spokesman called a "safety smock," assigned to suspects who said something in the jail that suggested they might harm themselves, the Associated Press reported. Purinton, who the Kansas City Star described as a Navy veteran, former pilot and air traffic controller who lives in "a comfortable suburban home," has a bond set at $2 million, according to court documents.

After shots were fired at Austins Bar and Grill Wednesday night in Olathe, the suspect fled on foot, and a manhunt ensued, the Kansas City Star reported. Purinton was seen less than five hours later in Clinton, Missouri, in a 2000 Chevy Silverado.

When he spoke with the Applebee's bartender that night, he made her promise she wasn't going to call the police, she told the 911 dispatcher.

"I asked him if he had a gun on him and he told me he did not," she said. "And he told me he wasn't going to hurt me, but I don't know."

She asked the dispatcher if the police could come to the restaurant quietly, without using sirens. "There's people in the building still and I don't want him to freak out," she said.

But when Clinton police arrived at 11:43 p.m., Purinton gave himself up without a fight, 41 Action News reported. Officers found him in possession of an expired active duty Navy ID card. He had booked room 131 at the West Bridge Motel up the road from Applebee's.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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