His sentencing is on July 2.
Adam Purinton, the navy veteran who shot Indian engineers Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani at a Kansas bar last year, has pleaded guilty to federal hate crime charges.
Kuchibhotla died in the shooting incident that happened on February 22 last year after Purinton opened fire at the two Indians under the assumption that they were Iranians.
Last month, Purinton was sentenced by to life in prison after he was convicted in March of premeditated first-degree murder.
Kuchibhotla was an aviation engineer at the Kansas-based technology company Garmin International and was living in the United States with his wife, Sunayana Dumala.
A third patron, Ian Grillot, a white American, was also wounded as he tried to intervene when Purinton tried fleeing from the bar after the incident.
According to Eye-witnesses accounts, Purinton asked Kuchibhotla and Madasani their immigration status, and a few moments before shooting yelled, “Get out of my country!”
Purinton, 53, entered the guilty plea to a three-count indictment on Monday at a Kansas federal court. He is slapped with hate crime and firearm charges.
The series of events that led to the killing of Kuchibhotla was mentioned the Department of Justice in a press release.
Here is how it unfolded, according to the release:
Kuchibhotla and Madasani were seated on the patio of Austins Bar and Grill a few weeks before the shooting, when the accused Purinton entered the bar.
On noticing the two Indians, Purinton shouted “Did you see the terrorists on the patio?
On the day of the fatal shooting, Purinton took a table to the right of Kuchibhotla and Madasani at the bar and soon approached the two asking for their citizenship status.
The prosecutor said that “Purinton poked Kuchibhotla in the chest, called him a ‘terrorist’. He also used an epithet disparaging persons of Middle Eastern descent, and shouted, ‘Get out of my country!’”.
Purinton was escorted out of the bar by Grillot and another patron but he drove back to his home only to return with an automatic piston.
He disguised his identity by wearing a blue-and-white scarf over his face and barged into the patio and took aim at Kuchibhotla who received four bullet injuries.
In total, Purinton fired eight rounds and one bullet was lodged into Madasani, who survived the assault.
Upon trying to flee, Grillot tried chasing Purinton down and got hands on him but Purinton turned around and shot Grillot and was let lose.
Purinton drove off in his car and after an hour called a friend to confess his crim and later went to another restaurant 70 miles away from Kansas, where he told a bartender that “he had just killed some Iranians.”
Purinton, during the federal hearing held on Monday, admitted that he shot both Kuchibhotla and Madasani “because of their race, color, religion and national origin.”
Purinton’s sentencing is scheduled for July 2. He faces a maximum of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole as the prosecution has not sought a death penalty.
Kuchibhotla’s wife Dumala, almost got deported as her legal status to live in the country expired after her husband’s death because she was on his dependent visa.
Dumala earlier this year attended President Trump’s first State of Union address as a guest of Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Kansas, where she said that she has seen “The Worst and Best of America.”
She has created a community organization named “Forever Welcome” with the help of the Intouch Solutions, where she works, to show empathy and understanding for people who are immigrants in the United States by bringing their personal journey and contributions to light.
Kuchibhotla completed his bachelor’s degree from the Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University in Hyderabad in electrical and electronics engineering in 2005. He earned a master’s degree from the University of Texas El Paso in 2007. At UT, he worked as a teaching assistant and later as a research assistant.
According to the statement by Austin’s Bar and Grill employees, Purinton, a regular customer, became an alcoholic after the death of his father, which had affected him physically and mentally for two years.
“Hate crimes are acts of evil, and the Department of Justice has prioritized their zealous prosecution,” said Acting Associate Attorney General Jesse Panuccio. “In this case, the defendant embarked on a murderous rampage with clear premeditation to kill on the basis of race, color, religion, and national origin. It was a hate crime, and he is being brought to justice. While we cannot ameliorate the irreparable harm to the victims and their families, we hope that securing this guilty plea brings them some measure of closure. And this prosecution sends a message across the nation: hate crimes will not be tolerated.”
“Nothing we do can provide complete comfort and solace to the victims of this tragic crime and their families,” said U.S. Attorney McAllister. “But our office hopes that the federal life sentence which Mr. Purinton has agreed to request and accept will give them some measure of closure.”
“Although Purinton has already been convicted of murder in the State of Kansas, and sentenced to life in prison, today’s plea in federal court speaks to his motive,” said FBI Kansas City Special Agent in Charge Darrin Jones. “By his agreement to today’s plea, Purinton acknowledges that his actions were motived by his hatred of the victims’ race, religion, color and national origin. This type of hatred will never be tolerated. I think it’s important for the community to see and understand that the FBI is committed to aggressively protecting and preserving the civil rights of all of our communities.”