Brian Eric Ford is raising money for people he doesn’t even know.
The 39-year-old graphic designer for a downtown Kansas City law firm heard about the triple shooting Wednesday night at an Olathe bar and began to get an unsettling feeling.
“I’ve been pretty closely following, since the election, the rise in white nationalism,” Ford said Thursday. “I thought this was a chance to do something to show support for these communities that are being attacked.”
Two of the victims — Srinivas Kuchibhotla, who was killed, and Alok Madasani, who was wounded — are of Indian descent. The shooter reportedly was yelling racial slurs before firing and later reportedly told a bartender in Clinton, Mo., that he had just killed two Middle Eastern men.
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“Clearly there was some racial motivation,” said Ford, who lives in western Shawnee, “though obviously we have to wait to see the evidence.”
Ford noticed that a GoFundMe page had been established to raise money for Ian Grillot, the man who intervened to try to stop the shooting, but not for the other two victims. Then he learned those two victims worked at Garmin. Ford has a friend who works at Garmin who also happens to live near Austins in Olathe, where the shooting occurred.
That felt close to home, said Ford, who decided to set up a GoFundMe page for Madasani and Kuchibhotla even though he doesn’t know them or their families. A separate GoFundMe page was set up for Kuchibhotla.
An early commenter on the page Ford set up was suspicious about his motivation. Ford said a friend of Kuchibhotla’s family also contacted him. So he posted an update on the page:
“I have been in touch with a member of the victim’s family as well as Human Resources at Garmin,” Ford wrote. “As a result, I have added the family members as beneficiaries to the funds which means they will now have sole access to the money once the funding period is completed.”
When pledges were nearing the goal of $10,000 Thursday afternoon Ford raised the goal to $50,000. Contributions were over $15,000 by 6 p.m.
One comment on the site said, “Brian, thank you for setting this up as just a concerned person in the community, and coordinating with the family.”