Purinton makes first court appearance
The man charged in last week’s deadly shooting in Olathe made his first court appearance Monday afternoon via closed-circuit television from the Johnson County jail.
Adam Purinton is accused of shooting three men at Austins Bar & Grill last Wednesday in what is being investigated by the FBI as a possible hate crime.
The hearing came as Hillary Clinton tweeted a message calling for President Donald Trump to “step up and speak out.”
“With threats & hate crimes on rise, we shouldn’t have to tell @POTUS to do his part,” the former secretary of state and presidential candidate tweeted.
Although she didn’t specifically mention the Olathe case, Clinton included a link to a Kansas City Star story about the incident.
Presidential spokesman Sean Spicer said last week that it was too early to label it a hate crime.
On Monday, while addressing the president’s concerns about recent anti-Semitic incidents around the country, Spicer mentioned the Olathe shooting.
“And while the story is evolving, early reports out of Kansas are equally disturbing,” Spicer said.
Spicer said the president, scheduled to address Congress on Tuesday night, was deeply disappointed and concerned about incidents of vandalism at Jewish cemeteries and threats to Jewish community centers.
“The president continues to condemn these and any other form of anti-Semitic and hateful acts in the strongest terms,” he said.
Purinton, 51, is charged in Johnson County District Court with first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder.
During Monday’s brief court appearance, Purinton was dressed in what is known as a safety or anti-suicide smock or suit.
A spokesman for the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office said he could not comment on why Purinton was dressed in the suit.
Purinton told District Judge Timothy McCarthy that he had been given a copy of the charges against him, and he requested a court-appointed attorney.
The judge appointed the public defenders office to represent Purinton. A lawyer from the office waived having the charges formally read Monday.
Purinton was not required to enter a plea to the charges.
In Wednesday night’s incident, Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, was killed, and Alok Madasani, 32, and Ian Grillot, 24, were wounded.
Kuchibhotla and Madasani worked together at Garmin. They are from India, and witnesses have said the gunman made derogatory statements toward them before the shooting.
Grillot was shot after intervening to help the other men.
News of Grillot’s action has led to many people hailing him as a hero.
The 24-year-old man will be honored by an Indian group in May, according to thehindu.com, an online newspaper in India.
The paper reported that the Telugu Association of North American, whose website says it is the oldest and largest Indo-American organization, plans to honor Grillot at its annual convention in St. Louis.
Officials at Garmin have said they are doing everything they can to assist the families of Kuchibhotla and Madasani, as well as other Garmin employees who knew and worked with the men.
“This has been a very difficult time as friends and co-workers of Srinivas Kuchibhotla are grieving and we cannot make sense of the situation,” said Cliff Pemble, president and CEO of Garmin. “Our focus at this moment is first and foremost to support Srinivas’ family who are experiencing deep grief while at the same time having to manage a set of very complex details.”
Garmin’s attorneys said they are working with Kuchibhotla’s widow on her visa status so she can travel to India for her husband’s funeral and return to the United States.
News of the Olathe shooting has been picked up by media in the United States and around the world.
Many have been moved to help, and more than $1 million has been donated to help the men and their families through GoFundMe.
Over the weekend, one witness to the shooting wrote a blog post recounting the chaos inside the bar.
Tim Hibbard, a partner in a Lenexa software firm, had just sat down at Austins and ordered some nachos when gunshots rang out.
“I heard ‘POP! POP!’, then screams, yelling and more ‘POPS!’ ” Hibbard wrote. “Like water breaching a dam, people flooded out of the adjacent room and into the narrow hallway where I was sitting at the bar. I ducked under my chair, struggling to get any sort of grip on whatever reality this was.”
He and others ran out, through the parking lot and down the street, knocking on the doors of strangers’ homes in search of safety, as he described in his blog.
Hibbard, who now lives in South Carolina, was in town on a business trip. In the blog post, he recounts how his thoughts after the shooting turned to the political climate of the country and the danger of guns.
“We live in a world where intolerance toward minorities and foreigners is encouraged from the top down. ‘Get out of my country!’— That is a real thing, that a real person said to another real person on February 22nd before shooting him,” Hibbard wrote.
“We live in a world where the rights of guns are more important than the lives of people.”
Several hours after the shooting, Purinton was arrested at an Applebee’s in Clinton, Mo.
A bartender called police after Purinton allegedly told her he had shot two Middle Eastern men and was looking for a place to hide.
He is being held in the Johnson County jail on a bond of $2 million.
His next court appearance will be March 9.
The Star’s Ian Cummings and the McClatchy Washington Bureau’s Anita Kumar contributed to this report.