In­dian im­mi­grant slain in Kansas re­fused to leave ‘coun­try he loved’

The Washington Post Sunday - - THE WORLD - BY AVI SELK avi.selk@wash­post.com More at wash­ing­ton­post.com/ blogs/post-na­tion

Be­fore Srini­vas Kuchib­hotla’s death in a pos­si­ble hate crime, his family warned him about the dan­gers of re­main­ing in the United States.

His wife was un­sure whether they should stay, even as they planned to start a family in Kansas. “I told him many times we should think about go­ing back [to In­dia],” Su­nayana Du­mala said at a news con­fer­ence Fri­day.

And yet, Du­mala said, Kuchib­hotla was not fear­ful. He re­fused to aban­don “the coun­try he loved.”

“He al­ways as­sured me good things will hap­pen to good peo­ple,” she said, speak­ing briefly and be­tween deep breaths, two days af­ter his death.

Po­lice say Adam W. Pur­in­ton, 51, opened fire Wed­nes­day night on Kuchib­hotla and Alok Madasani, an­other In­dian man drink­ing with him, at Austins Bar and Grill in Olathe, a Kansas City, Kan., sub­urb — killing Kuchib­hotla and wound­ing his friend and a third pa­tron who tried to help.

Wit­nesses re­ported that Pur­in­ton shouted racial slurs and told the two men to “get out of my coun­try.” He was ar­rested at a bar in Mis­souri, where the bar­tender told po­lice Pur­in­ton claimed to have killed two Mid­dle East­ern men, ac­cord­ing to the Kansas City Star.

The FBI is in­ves­ti­gat­ing whether to add hate-crime charges to his counts of mur­der and at­tempted mur­der.

“I was told that guy very proudly went to an­other bar and said he shot two Mus­lim guys,” Du­mala said.

Although she spoke with some dif­fi­culty, she made clear to reporters that Pur­in­ton knew noth­ing about her hus­band.

Kuchib­hotla came to the United States more than a decade ago from Hyderabad, In­dia, to be­come an en­gi­neer.

The Kansas City Star re­ported that Kuchib­hotla en­cour­aged a brother to im­mi­grate. He met Du­mala while study­ing for his mas­ter’s de­gree in Texas.

They mar­ried af­ter a six-year courtship, the Star re­ported — “what in In­dia is known as a love mar­riage,” and posed for wed­ding pho­tos in tra­di­tional In­dian dress.

Then they did things cou­ples do in the United States, like go on a four-state, 1,500-mile road trip to Dal­las to cel­e­brate New Year’s, as Du­mala de­scribed on Face­book in 2013.

“His pas­sion was avi­a­tion,” she said Fri­day. “He wanted to suc­ceed so much in this in­dus­try, and do so much for this coun­try . . .” She had to pause. “I’m sorry,” she said. “He did not de­serve a death like this.”

Be­fore the shoot­ing, the cou­ple had planned out long lives in Kansas. They bought a house. He and Du­mala were try­ing to have their first child.

This, de­spite grow­ing con­cerns about their cho­sen coun­try.

“We’ve read many times in news­pa­pers of some kind of shoot­ing hap­pen­ing,” she said. “I was al­ways con­cerned: Are we do­ing the right thing, stay­ing in the United States of Amer­ica?”

But up to the mo­ment of his death, Du­mala said, Kuchib­hotla paid no mind to such fears. “He said, ‘No, let’s just wait and see.’ ”

She gave her news con­fer­ence from a Kansas tech­nol­ogy com­pany where her hus­band and Madasani had worked.

“Does the color of a per­son state that he’s a Mus­lim, a Hindu or Chris­tian?” she asked.

Although she said much about her late hus­band’s tal­ents, pas­sions and what he did in the United States, she did not speak of his re­li­gion or an­ces­try — ex­cept to lament that it might mat­ter so much to an­other per­son.

MA­HESH KUMAR A./AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Ja­gan­mo­han Reddy, the fa­ther of shoot­ing vic­tim Alok Madasani, speaks to the me­dia at his home in Hyderabad, In­dia.

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