© 2024 WOSU Public Media
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Witnesses Say Kansas Bar Shooting Was Racially Motivated


We head now to Kansas where a neighborhood bar in the Kansas City suburbs has reopened after a triple shooting last week where one man was killed and two others injured. Many witnesses said the attack was racially motivated. KCUR reporter, Laura Ziegler, is here to tell us more about what happened. Laura, thanks so much for speaking with us.

LAURA ZIEGLER, BYLINE: You're welcome.

MARTIN: So the shooting happened last Wednesday in Olathe, Kansas. What's happened with the victims?

ZIEGLER: Well, Michel, the body of Srinivas Kuchibhotla has been flown back to Hyderabad. He is the one, of course, that died as a result of the shooting. His best friend and fellow engineer at Garmin, Alok Madasani has been released from the hospital. He also suffered injuries. He's at home keeping a pretty low profile. Did show up at a all-company gathering at Garmin on Friday, and reports were there was not a dry eye in the house, but he still is pretty sick. The third victim, an American young man named Ian Grillot, is still recovering from very serious injuries suffered because of the gunshot, and he's in the hospital. He, of course, stepped in and tried to stop the shooter and was hit.

MARTIN: What about the accused?

ZIEGLER: Ian Purinton (ph) is in custody in Johnson County, Kansas. He is charged on one count of premeditated first-degree murder, two counts of attempted premeditated murder, and he is scheduled to be arraigned tomorrow afternoon.

MARTIN: Now, I understand that the bar has reopened. Have you had a chance to speak with any of the employees or the patrons there? What was the atmosphere like?

ZIEGLER: Yes, I was there today. Last night it opened, and there was standing room only. I saw a lot of pictures of it, and the owner told me that Austin's Bar and Grill - it's called - attracts people from all over the world. He calls it a very diverse place where everyone is welcome.

BRANDON BLUM: Our customers - a couple of days a week maybe after work, come and have a couple of drinks and enjoy themselves on the patio usually. Just, you know, the diversity of the - you know, we've got people from all over the world that come here and, you know, it's very - it's like a melting pot.

ZIEGLER: He's a really nice guy, Brandon Blum. He said he was tired of the media. I mean, they're all kind of tired of the media that's been descending on the bar, but they are determined to stay open, and move forward and not let this get in the way.

MARTIN: So tell me a little bit more about the community of Olathe where this happened.

ZIEGLER: It's seen astronomical growth in immigrants and foreign nationals in its population. There are literally dozens of languages spoken at the public schools there. Johnson County in general, which is made up of a number of different cities, has become a mecca for many Asians and Indians from the subcontinent to work in high tech and engineering jobs that mega and multinational corporations like Sprint and Garmin and Cerner.

MARTIN: Have you heard any particular response from the immigrant community in the wake of this?

ZIEGLER: Yes, Michel, they are standing firm and determined not to let this strike fear into members of this community. They told me - they have told me that they feel welcome in Kansas and actually all across the metro - letting the community know - the broader community know that they enjoy it here, they feel safe here, they feel welcome here. Here's Sridhar Harohalli. He's the past president of the India Association. He told me the community is working very hard to preserve its own identity.

SRIDHAR HAROHALLI: Kids who are born here - when they go back and visit their grandparents, uncles, and aunts and they showcase what they have learned here being in the United States - but they have still not forgotten their heritage and culture.

ZIEGLER: I have to say that Kansas City as a whole has really stepped up and shown support. In fact, donations are pouring into online donation pages for the victims. There are four separate pages. Reports are there over a million dollars. And, of course, we don't know where they all come from, but a lot of endearing messages on those. And I would say that Metro Kansas City has really come out. And this has been national news, of course, and even international news. It's been headlines in the country of India.

MARTIN: That's KCUR reporter, Laura Ziegler, talking to us from their studios there. Laura, thanks so much for speaking with us.

ZIEGLER: You're welcome, Michel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Laura Ziegler began her career at KCUR as a reporter more than 20 years ago. She became the news director in the mid 1980's and in 1988, went to National Public Radio in Washington, D.C. as a producer for Weekend Edition Saturday with Scott Simon.