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A Kansas man was sentenced to life in prison Tuesday for fatally shooting an engineer from India after calling him a “terrorist" and yelling, "Get out of my country!" in a bar confrontation last year. The victim's companion, also from India, and a bar patron who intervened were wounded.
Adam Purinton, 53, was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole after pleading guilty in May to three federal counts, including hate crime and firearm charges.
Purinton admitted to killing Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, and wounding his friend Alok Madasani and a good Samaritan, Ian Gillot, at Austins Bar and Grill in Olathe, Kansas, in February 2017.
Purinton poked Kuchibhotla in the chest and called him an epithet against people of Middle Eastern descent, according to the Justice Department.
He then drove home, got a gun and returned to the bar.
“The crimes at issue in this case are detestable," Attorney General Jeff Sessions said a statement Tuesday. "The defendant acted with clear premeditation in murdering one man, and attempting to murder a second man, simply because of their race, religion and national origin. As a result, a promising young life has been tragically cut short, and other lives have been filled with suffering.”
Purinton’s federal defense attorneys did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment.
Kuchibhotla was an aviation systems engineer and programs manager at the GPS maker Garmin. A spokesperson for his wife, Sunayana Dumala, said she would not attend Tuesday’s sentencing.
In her victim-impact statement, Dumala described Kuchibhotla as kind, caring and always respectful of others.
She also had a message for Purinton.
“If you could have kept your anger inside and spoke to my husband softly, Srinu would have been more than happy to share his background and help you understand that not every brown-skinned person is suspicious or evil, but kind, smart and contributing to America,” Dumala said. “Instead you chose to rage and bully in anger and when you were stopped, you decided to take their lives.”
Purinton’s sentencing on the federal indictment came a little more than three months after he was sentenced to life, 50 years without the possibility of parole, on a state charge of premeditated first-degree murder.
A few weeks before the Feb. 22, 2017, shooting, Purinton was sitting alone at Austins Bar and Grill when he spotted Kuchibhotla and Madasani having a drink. In his plea agreement, he admitted saying to another patron, “Did you see the terrorists on the patio?”
On the night of the shooting, Purinton, again by himself, confronted Kuchibhotla and Madasani, demanding to know where they were from and how they got into the country.
Purinton was escorted out of the bar, but drove home to get a 9 mm semi-automatic pistol. He had also changed his shirt and put on a blue-and-white scarf to disguise his identity, prosecutors said.
After shooting Kuchibhotla and Madasani, Purinton fled the bar, turning to shoot Grillot, who had given chase.
Hours later, Purinton told a friend over the phone, and later a bartender in person, that “he had just killed some Iranians,” according to prosecutors.
Purinton admitted that he had tried to kill Kuchibhotla and Madasani “because of their race, color, religion and national origin.”