Slain Indian man's mother worried about son's safety
Engineer killed in ‘racially motivated’ crime comes home.
The mother of an Indian engineer who was killed in an apparently racially motivated shooting in an Olathe, Kan., bar said she asked her son to come back to India if he felt threatened in the United States, but that he told her he was not in any danger.
Srinivas Kuchibhotla’s mother wailed Tuesday as her son’s body was cremated in his hometown of Hyderabad.
“I had asked him to return to India if he was feeling insecure there. But he used to say he was safe and secure,” Parvatha Vardhini said.
Now she wants her younger son and his fam- ily to come home from the U.S.
“I will not allow them to go back,” she said. “My son had gone there in search of a better future. What crime did he commit?”
Hundreds of grieving relatives and friends tearfully mourned the 32-year-old who arrived in the U.S. in 2005 to pursue a master’s degree at the University of Texas at El Paso.
“It is so cruel. He was such a kind soul, very friendly. He was so excited that he and his wife were going to start a family soon. Now this has happened,” said P.L. Narayana, his uncle.
His father, Madhusudhan Rao, was philosophical: “I believe in destiny. Whatever was destined has happened.”
He added, “Now I want the U.S. government to take care of the security of our Indians who are working there.”
Meanwhile in the United States, the FBI said for the first time Tuesday that it is investigating the Feb. 22 attack as a hate crime. The agency said it is working with federal prosecutors and local authorities but declined to elaborate.
Also, the White House made its first comment on the killing, with spokeswoman Sarah Sanders saying the shooting appeared to be “an act of racially moti- vated hatred.”
“I want to reiterate the president condemns these or any other racially or reli- giously motivated attacks in the strongest terms,” Sand- ers said, adding that he is “keeping the family of the victim who was senselessly killed in his thoughts and prayers and praying for the full and speedy recovery for those who were wounded.”
Kuchibhotla’s body was flown to I ndia on Monday from Newark, N.J. His widow, Sunaina Dumala, looking daz e d, and his brother, Sai Kiran, who studies in the United States, arrived on the same flight.
Hours later, the flower-laden body was taken in an open carriage from to a crematorium in the Jubilee Hills area, where it was placed on a wooden pyre and burned as part of Hindu last rites.
According to witnesses, the gunman yelled “get out of my country” before open- ing fire on Kuchibhotla and his friend Alok Madasaniat at Austins Bar and Grill in Olathe, a suburb of Kansas City. Both men worked as engineers at GPS device- maker Garmin.
Madasani and another bar patron, who tried to intervene, were wounded.
Adam Purinton of Olathe was later arrested at a bar in Missouri after telling a bar- tender he had shot two peo- ple he described as Iranian. He remains jailed Tuesday on murder and attempted murder charges.
A message left for Michael McCulloch, the chief pub- lic defender in Johnson County, Kan., who is representing Purinton, was not returned.
A family member near Hyderabad, India, waits for the arrival Tuesday of the body of Srinivas Kuchibhotla, seen in the photo. Kuchibhotla was killed Feb. 22 in Olathe, Kan., by a gunman who shouted “Get out of my country.”