Kansas man charged in shooting of two Indians in possible hate crime

MILWAUKEE/NEW DELHI, Feb 24 (Reuters) - A Kansas man was charged on Thursday with shooting to death an Indian man and wounding a second Indian man and an American in a bar, and federal authorities are investigating the incident as a possible hate crime.

The killing led news bulletins in India and drew strong reactions on social media, where people voiced concern that U.S. President Donald Trump's "America First" position on immigration and jobs has fueled a climate of intolerance.

Adam Purinton, 51, was charged in Johnson County, Kansas, with one count of premeditated first degree murder and two counts of attempted premeditated first degree murder, Johnson County District Attorney Stephen Howe told a news conference.

Purinton is accused of shooting and killing Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, and wounding Alok Madasani, also 32, in the Austins Bar and Grill in Olathe, Kansas, on Wednesday evening, according to a statement from the Olathe Police Department.

At least one bystander told the Kansas City Star the man shouted "get out of my country" before shooting the Indian men. He is also accused of wounding American Ian Grillot, 24, who was shot when he tried to intervene.

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Two officials from the Indian consulate in Houston were going to Kansas to meet the injured men and police to "ascertain more details of the incident and monitor follow up action," Indian Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Vikas Swarup said in a statement.

The U.S. embassy in New Delhi condemned the shooting.

"The United States is a nation of immigrants and welcomes people from across the world to visit, work, study, and live," Chargé d'Affaires MaryKay Carlson said in a statement.

"U.S. authorities will investigate thoroughly and prosecute the case, though we recognize that justice is small consolation to families in grief."

The FBI was investigating whether the incident was a hate crime.

"We are looking at whether the crime was committed via bias motivation. We are really at the preliminary stage at looking at every aspect," said Eric Jackson, special agent in charge of the FBI's Kansas City Field Office, during the news conference.

The U.S. attorney office in Kansas and the U.S. Department of Justice will also evaluate the case as more evidence is gathered, Tom Beall, acting U.S. attorney for the District of Kansas said, according to the Kansas City Star.

The suspect fled from the bar on foot and was apprehended five hours later at an Applebee's in Clinton, Missouri, where he reportedly told an employee that he needed a place to hide out because he had killed two Middle Eastern men, the Star reported.

Purinton, who was not armed, was arrested without incident, the newspaper reported. The Navy veteran was being held on a $2 million bond in the Henry County Jail, where he waived his right to fight extradition to Johnson County. (Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee and Aditya Kalra in New Delhi; Editing by Douglas Busvine, Robert Birsel, Larry King)

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