A Kansas man who shot and killed an Indian immigrant after yelling "Get out of my country!" pleaded guilty Monday to federal hate crime charges, avoiding the death penalty.
Adam W. Purinton, a 53-year-old U.S. Navy veteran, had admitted to shooting Srinivas Kuchibhotla to death inside Austins Bar & Grill in Olathe in February 2017. Purinton also admitted to shooting and wounding Kuchibhotla’s friend and fellow Indian immigrant, Alok Madasani Reddy, and Ian Grillot, a bar parton.
He pleaded guilty in Kansas state court to murder and attempted murder in March and was sentenced this month to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 50 years. But he also faced the death penalty for federal hate crimes charges. Purinton pleaded for charges that said he shot Kuchibhotla and Reddy "because of their actual and perceived race, color, religion and national origin."
"Hate crimes are acts of evil, and the Department of Justice has prioritized their zealous prosecution,” Acting Associate U.S. Attorney General Jesse Panuccio said in a statement Monday.
"And this prosecution sends a message across the nation: hate crimes will not be tolerated."
Purinton faces a maximum sentence of life in federal prison when he is sentenced for the hate crime charges July 2.
Kuchibhotla and Madasani both came to the U.S. from India as students, and did contract work for Garmin as engineers.They sometimes went out for drinks together at Austins, where they were known as "the Jameson guys," according to the New York Times.
Purinton said he noticed the men one evening weeks before the shooting, and commented to another bar patron, “Did you see the terrorists on the patio?"
On February 22, the two men were having another drink at the bar when Purinton confronted them and demanded to know what country they were from.
He poked Kuchibhotla in the chest, called him a “terrorist” and a “sand n----r,” and shouted, “Get out of my country!,” according to prosecutors.
Grillot and another bar patron intervened, and escorted Purinton out.
But Purinton returned, masked and armed with a Taurus 9mm semi-automatic handgun. He fired eight times, hitting Kuchibhotla four times and Reddy once, before fleeing. Grillot gave chase, and was shot by Purinton.
Purinton told a friend, and then a bartender, that he shot “some Iranians.”
At the time of the shooting, Reddy's father blamed by the bigoted violence on Donald Trump's recent inauguration and urged other Indian parents to keep their children away from America.
"The situation seems to be pretty bad after Trump took over as the U.S. President. I appeal to all the parents in India not to send their children to the US in the present circumstances," Madasani Jaganmohan Reddy told the Hindustan Times days after the attack.
[PHOTO: Courtesy of the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office]