On an occasion where Olathe Mayor Mike Copeland usually extols the virtues of this suburban city, he opened his annual speech by addressing last week’s shooting at Austins Bar & Grill.
“That event does not represent who Olathe is,” the mayor said Friday.
Copeland, speaking at his annual State of the City speech at the Olathe Conference Center, remembered Srinivas Kuchibhotla, the Garmin engineer who died at the shooting at Austins on Feb. 22. Copeland wished for a speedy recovery for Alok Madasani and Ian Grillot, who were both injured by a gunman.
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“We pray for a speedy recovery for Alok Madasani, also a highly skilled engineer at Garmin, and Ian Grillot,” Copeland said. “Ian stood up for strangers and nearly gave his life for them. We pray that those in mourning will find comfort in the outpouring of love and support across our community.”
Adam Purinton, whom authorities arrested in Missouri hours after the shooting, is the suspect in the shooting and has been charged with first-degree murder.
“What has this tragedy showed us about our community?” Copeland asked. “It reaffirmed who we are. It showed out strength is our different origins, melded into this compassionate, inclusive and united community. It showed how we come together by the thousands to offer prayers, support and love.”
The FBI is investigating the shooting as a hate crime; witnesses said Purinton uttered racial slurs at Austins prior to the shooting.
“No act of evil will divide us,” Copeland told the audience in the crowded conference room. “We will never allow hatred and bigotry to stand; we remain one Olathe.”
From there, Copeland’s address — this is his 16th as Olathe’s mayor — took on the familiar tone of those from previous years, largely an enthusiastic rundown of the city’s accomplishments.
Among the topics covered were a number of economic development milestones the city reached over the last year. That included the Olathe Medical Center breaking ground on a 25,000-square-foot cancer center as part of the hospital system’s $100 million expansion. That cancer center is expected to open in 2018.
Copeland mentioned HiPower System’s announced move from Lenexa to Olathe in 2018 where the power generator manufacturer will occupy a 515,000-square-foot building at 167th Street and Lone Elm Road.
All told, more than $411 million in private capital investment was channeled into Olathe over the last year, according to Copeland.
After about 45 minutes, Copeland concluded his address the way he has in years past.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” Copeland said from the lectern, “the state of our city is strong.”