OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A bartender at the restaurant where a man was arrested last week for an apparently racially motivated bar shooting of two Indian men told a 911 dispatcher that the suspect admitted shooting two people, but described them as Iranian.
A recording from Henry County, Missouri, 911 reveals that the bartender warned police not to approach the building with sirens blaring or the man would “freak out” and “something bad’s going to happen.”
The man, Adam Purinton, 51, of Olathe, made his first appearance in court on Feb. 27 via video link. He has been charged with first-degree murder and first-degree attempted murder. According to witnesses, Purinton yelled “get out of my country” at two 32-year-old Indian men, Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani, before he opened fire at Austin’s Bar and Grill in the Kansas City suburb on Feb. 22.
Kuchibhotla was killed and Madasani injured. The two had come to the U.S. from India to study, and they worked as engineers at GPS-maker Garmin. A third patron, Ian Grillot, 24, was wounded when he tried to intervene.
After the shooting, Purinton, who is white, drove 70 miles east to an Applebee’s restaurant in Clinton, Missouri, where he made the shocking admission to the bartender.
In the 911 call, the bartender, Sam Suida, told the dispatcher a man had come into the bar and said he’d done something “really bad” and was on the run from the police.
“He asked if he could stay with me and my husband, and he wouldn’t tell me what he did. I kept asking him, and he said that he would tell me if I agreed to let him stay with me,” the bartender said. “Well, I finally got him to tell me and he said, like, that he shot and killed two Iranian people in Olathe….”
Authorities have declined to discuss a possible motive for the attack or to say if they are investigating it as a hate crime. But the incident has raised concern about the treatment of immigrants, who feel targeted by President Donald Trump’s promises to ban certain travelers, build a wall along the Mexico border and put “America first.”
During a court appearance lasting less than two minutes, Purinton was seen wearing what was described by a sheriff’s department spokesman as a “safety smock,” assigned to suspects who said something during jail processing that suggested they might do harm to themselves.
Johnson County sheriff’s Master Deputy Rick Howell would not disclose the comment by Purinton that raised concern, but said the suspect would wear the smock until mental health professionals say otherwise.
Andy Berthelsen, a neighbor of Purinton’s for the past 15 years, told the AP that Purinton had become “a drunken mess” after his father’s death about 18 months ago. He said he doesn’t believe the shooting stemmed from hatred, and that it likely resulted from Purinton’s physical and mental deterioration.
The University of Kansas Health System released a video on Feb. 26 of an interview with Grillot, of Grandview, Missouri, who is recovering after a bullet went through his right hand and into his chest.
Grillot said he had to do something because there were families and children in the bar when the gunfire erupted. Grillot said he is grateful that the attack is bringing the community together and that it is “awesome honestly to be able to give people a hope that not everybody hates everybody.”
Madasani addressed a crowd of hundreds during a vigil last Sunday at the Ball Conference Center in Olathe, Kansas.
He described the killing of Kuchibhotla, his friend and co-worker, as “a senseless crime,” the Kansas City Star reported.
“The main reason why I am here is that’s what my best friend, Srinivas, would have done,” Madasani said. “He would have been here for me.”
“I wish it was a dream,” Madasani said.
Still walking on crutches, Madasani drew applause when he called the shooting “an isolated incident that doesn’t reflect the true spirit of Kansas, the Midwest and the United States.”
At the vigil, Madasani recalled how Kuchibhotla never complained about picking him up and driving him to work for six months.
“He waited till I bought a car. That’s the kind of guy he was — is,” Madasani said.