Olathe community stunned, saddened by bar shooting

OLATHE, Kan. - Following the triple shooting at Austins Bar and Grill Wednesday night, Olathe residents went to the bar Thursday to lay flowers and offer condolences to the staff, patrons and victims' families.

"You just can’t help but your heart goes out to them, and it’s such a sad story for the community but I just wanted to support and of course honor the lives and everybody involved," said nearby business owner Amber McCracken.

"It's just terrifying that this happened in my hometown," said Amanda Conner. "It's just awful."

Conner and Benjamin Roppe don't know the victims involved, but came to Austins Thursday night to pray. 

Roppe said he planned to celebrate his birthday at the bar the night the shooting happened, but changed his mind at the last minute.

"I should have been there," Roppe said. "I should have definitely seen what happened but I didn't, and that bothers me."

Richard Kim, who runs a cleaner store next to Austins, described the moment he heard a shot.

"The third and fourth I heard. At the time I knew it was gunshots so I hid behind the wall. I didn't want to be shot," said Kim.

A server at Austins told 41 Action News the alleged shooter, Adam Purinton, was kicked out of the bar for saying racial slurs to Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani while the two watched a basketball game. Ian Grillot, a regular at the bar, had stepped in during the confrontation.

Staff was notified not to let Purinton back in, but he returned about a half hour later and allegedly shot Madasani and Kuchibhotla. Grillot then attempted to subdue Purinton but was shot as well.

Kuchibhotla died from his injuries.

Police are in the process of interviewing dozens of witnesses. Detectives are combing through evidence, trying to determine the shooter's motive.

"They are going to try to find video, they are going to interview and get statements from witnesses, document this guy's demeanor, his behaviors, and his statements, as well as what else was going on in this bar," explained retired KCPD detective Pete Edlund. 

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The FBI is also involved. 

"First thing is, we are looking if the crime was committed via bias motivation," said Special Agent in Charge Eric Jackson. "If you are trying to deny this person their civil rights, which is something that is allowed to all of us in this country."

The shooting has shaken the tight-knit Indian community in Olathe according to Shabina Kavimandan, who was among those laying flowers at the site.

"We take pride in the fact that we come and we become a part of this society and then when things like this happen you just stop in your tracks and you realize that yes you are a little different," said Kavimandan. "When we pull back the layer then we realized, oh, gun violence was actually somebody killing people because they are different, that adds another layer to it. That's when it became really hard to really make sense of this."

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Others are urging the community to take Grillot's example of standing up to prevent a similar situation from happening in the future.

“I can’t let that go. I can’t let that pass because when I do I normalize it. If we don't each pledge to do that, this is going to keep happening more and more,” said one female Olathe resident.

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Brian Abel can be reached at brian.abel@kshb.com. 

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