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 Monday 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 Wednesday evening.
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 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 were 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 Monday’s hearing, Johnson County District Judge Charles Droege appointed public defender Michael McCulloch to represent Purinton. McCulloch declined to comment on the case.
Purinton is jailed on $2 million bond and his next court appearance is set for March. 9.
Andy Berthelsen, a neighbor of Purinton’s for the past 15 years, told The Associated Press that Purinton had been in rapid decline since the death of his father about 18 months ago. The two had exceptionally close, Berthelsen said.
Always a drinker, Purinton became “a drunken mess” after his father’s death and bounced from one menial job to the next. Berthelsen said he’s never heard him make a racist remark or talk politics. He said he doesn’t believe the shooting stemmed from hatred, and that it likely resulted from Purinton’s physical and mental deterioration.
“This is someone who’s gone downhill very quickly,” Berthelsen said.
The University of Kansas Health System released a video Sunday 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 Sunday night 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.