Washington: The wife of Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla, who was shot dead at a US bar two days ago, has publicly sought answers to what she perceived was a spread in American hate crimes.
“I have a question in my mind: Do we belong here,” Sunayana Dumala asked at a news conference on Friday at the headquarters of electronics manufacturer Garmin, where Kuchibhotla worked as an aviation systems engineer.
“We’ve read many times in newspapers of some kind of shooting happening… And we always wondered, how safe we are?”
Of the two of them, she said, she was most concerned, asking her reassuring husband: “Are we doing the right thing of staying in the United States of America?”
Kuchibhotla hailed from Hyderabad and his wife is returning to India for Kuchibhotla’s funeral. She said she wanted to come back to their home in south Olathe, Kansas state, fulfilling her husband’s wishes for an American life and “me being successful in any field I choose”, Kansas City Star newspaper reported.
But before making that decision, “I need an answer,” she said. “I need an answer from the government. …What are they going to do to stop this hate crime?”
Kuchibhotla, 32, was killed and his colleague Alok Madasani was injured when Adam W. Purinton, a white who earlier served in the US Navy, shot them at the Austins Bar & Grill in Olathe, Kansas state, on Wednesday night.
Purinton reportedly got into an argument with the victims and hurled racial slurs. He yelled “get out of my country” and “terrorist” before shooting them.
Authorities on Thursday charged Purinton, 51, with first-degree murder in Kuchibhotla’s death. The incident was being investigated as a possible hate crime. Madasani, who hails from Warangal town in Telangana, was released from a hospital on Thursday, the Star reported.
Ian Grillot, an American who tried to save the Indians, remained hospitalized in fair condition. He was hit by a bullet that pierced his hand and then lodged in his chest.
Madasani was greeted on Friday to a rousing standing ovation at Garmin during a companywide vigil held in honour of co-worker Kuchibhotla.
Over 200 Garmin workers attended the programme at the company’s Olathe complex, where they listened to Kuchibhotla’s wife share stories about they met and their lives together.
In the afternoon news conference, company officials, along with Olathe Mayor Michael Copeland, pledged their support for Kuchibhotla’s family.
Kuchibhotla arrived in the US in 2005 with a visa to attend the University of Texas-El Paso (UTEP). His widow said they met online when she was considering attending UTEP. But she instead chose St. Cloud State University in Minnesota after arriving here in 2007.
After a six-year courtship, they married in 2012 and bought what Dumala called their “dream house” in a new Olathe subdivision. They were planning on having children when he was murdered, she said.