‘His personality was exceptional’: Former manager remembers man killed in Olathe shooting

Srinivas Kuchibhotla was the kind of job candidate that every hiring manager wanted on his team, Rod Larson remembers.

He was the top pick in 2007 for a software engineer position at Rockwell Collins, an avionics and information technology systems company based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. When Kuchibhotla came in for round-robin interviews, Larson knew he would try to snag him for his department.

“He was very sharp. A top-of-his-class kind of guy,” Larson said. “His personality was exceptional. He was the kind of employee every manager would want.”

In fact, Larson said, Kuchibhotla was so exceptional that Larson ultimately couldn’t keep him. He said Thursday that Kuchibhotla was moved from his auto-flight department and became instrumental in helping his company develop its first fly-by-wire planes, in which manual controls are entirely replaced by computers.

He moved up to a senior systems engineer role before taking a job at Garmin International as an aviation programs engineer in early 2014.

“I couldn’t say anything slightly bad about Srinivas,” Larson said. “He was well-liked by anybody. He was excellent in all categories. He was a low-maintenance employee and did whatever was asked of him.”

Kuchibhotla died Wednesday night in Kansas City when a man opened fire at an Olathe bar, killing Kuchibhotla and injuring Alok Madasani, 32, and Ian Grillot, 24. The man was later identified as Adam W. Purinton, 51, of Olathe. Purinton was charged Thursday with first-degree premeditated murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder.

Kuchibhotla had stopped by Austins Bar and Grill in south Olathe to get a drink with Madasani after work. Purinton reportedly yelled “get out of my country” before shooting Madasani and Kuchibhotla and fleeing. Grillot was shot in the hand and chest while trying to stop Purinton.

The Star was unable to reach the family of Kuchibhotla on Thursday, and friends said they were waiting for permission from the family to speak to the media. A GoFundMe account was set up by a woman who told The Star she was a family member in order to help Kuchibhotla’s family transport his body back to India.

“Srini was the kindest person you would meet, full of love, care and compassion for everyone,” the site description read. “He never uttered a word of hatred, a simple gossip, or a careless comment. He was brilliant, well mannered and simply an outstanding human being.”

Kuchibhotla’s social media pages offer a peek at the life of the man Larson also emphasized was consistently kind. According to Facebook pages, both he and his wife, Sunayana Dumala, are from the city of Hyderabad, in the Telangana region of India.

Kuchibhotla, 32, appears to have married his wife in October 2012. His wife listed Intouch Solutions in Olathe as her employer.

Kuchibhotla studied electronics and power systems throughout his academic career. In 2005, he graduated from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University in Hyderabad. He earned a master’s degree in electrical and electronic engineering from the University of Texas at El Paso, where he also worked as a teaching and research assistant before graduating in 2007.

He took a job as a software engineer at Rockwell Collins shortly after, according to his LinkedIn page, and worked there until 2014, when he moved to Kansas to start a job at Garmin International.

“Thanks for all those who made it to farewell parties!!!!! It was very difficult and emotional moment to leave you all, to start our new journey at Kansas.” Kuchibhotla’s wife posted online during this time.

Katy Bergen: 816-234-4120, @KatyBergen