Srinivas Kuchibhotla came to America with high hopes and loved the country, as stated by his wife. Now a widow, Sunayana Dumala has flown back to India to be with Srinivas’s family.
In Olathe, Kansas, a racist crime took the life of Srinivas and injured two others, one of them Indian and the other American.
Adam Purinton, 51, has been charged with premeditated first-degree murder. Before shooting, Purinton had voiced out several racial slurs, including yelling “get out of my country”.
Ms. Dumala stated her husband and her were afraid of the rise of racism after the election of Donald Trump and praised her husband for being “dedicated” to their life in the U.S. and his job as an engineer at Garmin, according to BBC News.
“Just last week we drove to Iowa to see our friends and their new baby,” she said. “When we came back, he was working in the car while I was driving. That was his dedication to work. That’s how much he loved working… He personally wanted to do so much for this country.”
Working alongside Mr. Srinivas, Mr. Madasani, the Indian injured, were regulars at Austin’s Bar and Grill where they drank after work.
But one Wednesday night, Mr. Purinton let out racial slurs according to witnesses and was thrown out but, according to police, he returned with a gun and opened fire, killing Mr. Kuchibhotla. Mr. Madasani was wounded, along with a 24-year-old American man who attempted to interfere.
Hours later, the 51-year-old former air traffic controller reportedly told a bartender in another town that he needed a place to hide because he had just killed two Middle Eastern men.
Ms. Dumala last saw her husband early that morning, when he left for work. “I was still taking my shower as he was passing from the hall and he said goodbye,” she said.
He had worked late two nights already that week and she texted him to ask him if he would bring some work home so they could have tea together. He told her he would be home at 7:00 p.m, little did she know that he would never come home again.
At 8:00 p.m. Ms. Dumala became worried and contacted her friends, including Mr. Madasani’s wife. She was notified of news about the shooting and then called her husband several times until a friend came to the house with the devastating news.
“The look in his face and the way he was looking at me… I asked him, ‘Is Srina dead?’, and he nodded his head.”
Ms. Dumala said she wanted to rush to the hospital but collapsed in the garage. She waited at the house until two policemen arrived.
“They asked my name, Srina’s name, his date of birth,” she said. “Then they told me those words and they just said it so simply. They said they were sorry.”
Mr. Kuchibhotla was from the Indian city of Hyderabad, where his parents still live. Ms. Dumala described how her husband had recently bought a car for his father. “He was so happy and so proud about it,” she said, reported by BBC News.
“There are three brothers and he’s the youngest. I always heard stories that they were the naughtiest kids.”
This shooting only contributes to the heightening fear of being foreign in America, with Donald Trump as president.
Ms. Dumala became very fearful when Trump began doing well in the elections.
“I was so worried I just couldn’t sleep,” she said. “I was talking to Srina and I was like, ‘Will we be safe in this country?’ He would say ‘Nani, Nani, don’t worry. We will be OK. We will be OK’.”
They had even discussed returning to their home country, India.
The FBI is now investigating whether Mr. Kuchibhotla and Mr. Madasani were targeted because of their race. Mr. Madasani has visited Ian Grillot, 24, the US man injured while attempting to stop the shooting, to thank him.
She also plans to return to America after her trip back to India, despite the tragedy that will forever leave n mark.
“I feel I have to come back and show people here that you’ve taken away my love, but I’m here to spread love,” she said.