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Survivor Calls On Trump To Denounce Racial Shooting At Olathe Bar

Alex Smith
KCUR 89.3

The Olathe bar shooting survivor being hailed as a hero on Tuesday joined the chorus of people calling on President Trump to denounce the targeting of two men because of their race.

Ian Grillot, 24, who tried to stop a gunman when he opened fire at Austins Bar & Grill last Wednesday, says he believes the shooter singled out the two Indian victims because of their ethnicity and hopes President Trump will address the incident.

“It would be nice for (Trump) to give some closure because I know people all around the world are waiting for something,” Grillot says. “He made statements on the Oscars and this, that and the other, but not this, that took lives.”

Later Tuesday, the White House did condemn the shootings, telling reporters that the incident appears to be "an act of racially motivated hatred."

"I want to reiterate the president condemns these or any other racially or religiously motivated attacks in the strongest terms," Sarah Sanders, a Trump spokeswoman, says. "They have no place in our country."

On Tuesday, as victim Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, was being buried in his hometown in southern India, the FBI announced that it would be investigating the incident as a hate crime, opening the door for federal charges.

Already, Adam Purinton, 51, has been charged with first-degree murder in a Kansas court. He was arrested at an Applebee’s in Clinton, Missouri, a few hours after the shooting where he reportedly told a bartender that he had just shot two Iranian men.

Purinton is accused of shooting Kuchibhotla and his friend Alok Madasani, 32, both Garmin engineers, after using racial slurs and reportedly telling them to “Get out of my country!” Kuchibhotla’s widow has called on the government about what it planned to do about the “hate crime.” Madasani survived and was released from the hospital over the weekend.

U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, a Kansas Republican, on Tuesday announced that he had urged Trump to “condemn hateful acts” like the Olathe shooting, and said he hoped Trump would do that during his address before Congress slated for Tuesday night.

“I’ve been clear that the president must use this amazing platform to condemn this hateful act in no uncertain terms and send a powerful message that no American should be fearful in their own community,” Yoder says.

The day before, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton also tweeted that Trump should “step up and speak out” about the shootings.

“With threats & hate crimes on rise, we shouldn’t have to tell @POTUS to do his part,” Clinton tweeted.

Trump spokesman Sean Spicer has said it is too early to call the shootings a hate crime, but described it as "disturbing."

Grillot, who is still in the University of Kansas Hospital with wounds to his hand and his chest, met with reporters in a green patient robe and speaking with a voice made raspy by the gunfire.

Grillot told reporters that he’s grateful for the international outpouring of support he’s received. He hopes the incident will help turn around what he sees as a divisive mood in the U.S.  

“Life is too short for hate and anger. There’s no reason for it,” Grillot says. “Yeah, you might just a little mad at your neighbor, but I betcha a little grilling session of some hamburgers and hot dogs and a cold beer oughta solve that.”

Doctor say they expect Grillot to be released in a few days.

Peggy Lowe is investigations editor for KCUR. She can be reached on Twitter @peggyllowe.

Alex Smith is a health reporter for KCUR. You can reach him on Twitter @AlexSmithKCUR


I’m a veteran investigative reporter who came up through newspapers and moved to public media. I want to give people a better understanding of the criminal justice system by focusing on its deeper issues, like institutional racism, the poverty-to-prison pipeline and police accountability. Today this beat is much different from how reporters worked it in the past. I’m telling stories about people who are building significant civil rights movements and redefining public safety. Email me at lowep@kcur.org.
As a health care reporter, I aim to empower my audience to take steps to improve health care and make informed decisions as consumers and voters. I tell human stories augmented with research and data to explain how our health care system works and sometimes fails us. Email me at alexs@kcur.org.
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