Hundreds crammed into church to honor victims of Olathe shooting
“Love each other” was the overarching theme as mourners filled the First Baptist Church of Olathe on Friday for a vigil for the victims of a triple shooting that left one man dead and two others injured.
Visitors were greeted with solemn but spirit-filled musical numbers before prayers were offered for the families of Srinivas Kuchibhotla, Alok Madasani and Ian Grillot.
All three men were shot Wednesday while at Austins Bar & Grill in Olathe. Kuchibhotla, 32, died, while Madasani, 32, and Grillot, 24, survived.
Adam Purinton, 51, of Olathe was charged Thursday with first-degree murder in the death of Kuchibhotla. He also is charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder in the shootings of Madasani and Grillot.
Volunteers handed out candles as visitors stoically made their way into the church’s sanctuary.
Outside of the church’s pews, BJ Vick of Edgerton, and his 14-year-old son, Beau, pondered the ramifications of Wednesday’s shooting.
The elder Vick, 40, said he was at the church with his family when gunshots rang out. They were shuttered to safety inside the building while authorities searched for the alleged gunman. Two days later, BJ and Beau were among a diverse group of people that filled the church.
“We just wanted to come up and pay our respect and be a part of the community,” BJ Vick said.
Beau said despite the shooting he is optimistic that the goodness of people would prevail over hate.
“I’m hopeful,” Beau said.
Pastor Derek Varney said he was en route to Colorado when he learned of the tragedy. Varney said he could barely keep his mind focused while he was there.
“I was in Colorado, but my heart was in Olathe,” he said.
Despite strife, Varney was able to elicit a collective laugh on a few occasions.
In one instance, Varney asked the crowd to turn to the person on either side of them and tell them that they were loved. It was a riveting, time-consuming scene that elicited this playful response from Varney: “Ok, that’s a little bit too much love.”
The banter brought laughter to an otherwise solemn event.
A group of employees from Austins Bar & Grill gathered in front of bar after the vigil to offer moment of silence. None were ready to speak about the incident.