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FBI to investigate Kansas shooting of two Indian men as a hate crime

Nearly a week after a shooting in Kansas left one Indian national dead and another wounded, the FBI announced Tuesday it was investigating the violent incident as a hate crime.

Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, an Indian immigrant, was shot and killed by a 51-year-old white man Wednesday at Austins Bar and Grill in Olathe, a city outside of Kansas City, Kansas. Witnesses said the suspect, Adam Purinton, shouted racial slurs before opening fire in the bar, The Kansas City Star reported.

Kuchibhotla died from injuries in the attack. His friend and colleague, Alok Madasani, 32 — who is also Indian — and bar patron Ian Grillot, 24, were injured. Grillot had tried to intervene in the shooting.

“Based upon the initial investigative activity, the FBI, in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, is investigating this incident as a hate crime,” the FBI said in a statement. “The FBI will continue to work jointly with Olathe Police Department and our state and local partners regarding this ongoing investigation,” the statement continued.

Kansas does not have a hate crime statute, as Johnson County District Attorney Stephen M. Howe pointed out on Twitter. Purinton will not face hate crime charges if they’re not brought in federal court.

Witnesses have said the shooter told the two Indian men to “get out of my country.” Later, an Applebee’s bartender in Clinton, Missouri, called 911 to report that a man at the bar told her he did “something bad” for “shooting two people in Olathe.”

The bartender told the dispatcher that the man wouldn’t specify what exactly he did.

“I kept asking him, and he said that he would tell me if I agreed to let him stay with me,” Sam Suida is heard saying on the 911 call. “I finally got him to tell me, and he said, like, that he shot and killed two Iranian people in Olathe,” she added.

The bartender’s phone call helped authorities locate the suspect across state lines, KSHB-TV reported.

President Donald Trump has yet to publicly address the incident, a fact that has prompted some critics to ask why. Grillot, who’s still recovering in a local hospital, told reporters that he hopes Trump mentions the shooting in tonight’s address to Congress.

Sunayana Dumala, Kuchibhotla’s widow, returned to India for her husband’s funeral Tuesday. She said during a news conference last week that she may return to the U.S., to her home in Olathe. But “I need an answer from the government,” she added. “What are they going to do to stop this hate crime?”

Read more: Widow of Olathe shooting victim: ‘I need an answer’ on how U.S. stops hate crimes

Tim Hibbard, another patron who witnessed the shooting last week, wrote a blog post on his personal site, describing what he saw that night.

“We live in a world where intolerance toward minorities and foreigners is encouraged from the top down. ‘Get out of my country!’ — That is a real thing, that a real person said to another real person on February 22nd before shooting him,” Hibbard wrote.

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