Olathe Shooter Pleads Guilty To Hate Crimes And Avoids Possible Death Sentence
Editor's note: Offensive language is used in this story.
The Olathe resident who shot and killed an Indian national and wounded two other men last year at an Olathe bar pleaded guilty in federal court Monday to two hate crime offenses and one firearm offense.
Adam W. Purinton’s plea agreement with the government calls for him to serve consecutive life sentences on the three pleas as well as to the life sentences he was given in state court earlier this month.
The sentencing recommendations spare Purinton a possible death sentence. But they virtually ensure that Purinton, who turned 53 today, will spend the rest of his life in prison.
U.S. District Judge Carlos Murguia will officially sentence Purinton on July 2, after he receives a pre-sentence report.
Purinton, sporting a full beard and wearing glasses, wore an orange prison uniform with the word “inmate” emblazoned on the back when he entered the courtroom Monday morning. He smiled and waved to a relative seated in the back of the courtroom.
At the hearing, federal prosecutor David Zabel laid out the government’s evidence against Purinton. That included previously undisclosed information that Purinton had visited Austin’s Bar & Grill several weeks before the shooting and noticed two of the victims, Kuchibhotla and fellow Garmin engineer Alok Madasani, seated at the bar’s patio.
“Did you see the terrorists on the patio?” Zabel said Purinton asked a nearby patron.
Zabel then described what happened on the evening of the shootings on Feb. 22, 2017:
Purinton took a seat by himself on the patio. Kuchibhotla and Madasani were sitting at a table to his right. Ian Grillot, the third person he shot, was sitting to his left.
Purinton demanded to know where Kuchibhotla and Madasani were from and how they had entered the country. Purinton poked Kuchibhotla in the chest, called him a “terrorist” and a “sand nigger,” and shouted, “Get out of my country!”
Grillot told Purinton he needed to leave and escorted him out of the bar. Purinton then drove home, changed his shirt, wrapped a scarf around his face, retrieved a semi-automatic pistol and drove back to the patio in his truck. There he fired at least eight shots at Kuchibhotla and Madasani. At least four struck Kuchibhotla and one struck Madasani.
Kuchibhotla, 32, died at a hospital shortly afterward. Madasani, 32 at the time, survived.
After shooting them, Purinton ran out of the bar. As Grillot gave chase, Purinton turned around and shot Grillot in the hand and chest. Grillot, 24 at the time, also survived.
Later that evening, Purinton told a friend on the phone and a bartender at another bar that he was on the run from police because he “had shot two Iranians.”
At the hearing Monday, Purinton answered “Yes, your honor” several dozen times as Murguia queried him whether he understood the charges and whether he was voluntarily pleading guilty.
Murguia noted that records showed Purinton had been diagnosed in the past as suffering from anxiety, depression and alcohol withdrawal-induced psychosis. Purinton’s attorney said the last diagnosis was made after he was taken into custody.
Purinton told Murguia he had taken medications for the conditions, but was not taking them now.
Except for the sentencing next month, the guilty pleas bring to an end the criminal proceedings concerning the shootings, which drew international attention.
A federal grand jury grand jury indicted Purinton on the hate crime and firearms charges 14 weeks after he was charged with murder and attempted murder in state court. The three-count indictment accused him of shooting Kuchibhotla and Madasani because of their race, color, religion and national origin.
Stephen McAllister, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Kansas, observed the hearing Monday from the seats reserved for spectators.
Afterward, his office released a statement in which McAllister said: “Nothing we do can provide complete comfort and solace to the victims of this tragic crime and their families. 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.”
Acting Associate Attorney General Jesse Panuccio said in the statement that Purinton had “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.” Panuccio said. “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.”
Dan Margolies is a senior reporter and editor at KCUR. You can reach him on Twitter @DanMargolies.