OLATHE, Kan. — The murder investigation at Austins Bar & Grill in Olathe is now proceeding down two tracks – a local version, as well as a federal review.
Olathe police revealed Thursday at a joint press conference they are working alongside the FBI to determine what’s next, including whether federal hate crime charges are possible.
The FBI got involved after witnesses and victims’ family members claimed suspect Adam Purinton used racial slurs before shooting two men believed to be from India.
The two men targeted have been identified as Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, and Alok Madasani, 32. Kuchibhotla later died at the hospital.
A third bargoer, Ian Grillot, was also shot when he tried to intervene. Grillot and Madasani are in stable condition at KU Hospital and are expected to recover.
FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric Jackson explained the FBI’s involvement.
“It`s not uncommon for hate crime investigations to be conducted jointly by the FBI and local law enforcement and prosecuted under the state law,” he said.
Jackson said the FBI is “tasked with defending civil rights violations committed in the U.S.”
He’s now working to determine if Purinton’s alleged crime is one of hate.
“I have FBI personnel working this investigation from every angle,” Jackson pledged.
It’s an investigation former FBI agent Michael Tabman understands, saying the first 24 hours of this investigation are vital.
“You want to prove who committed the crime,” Tabman said of next steps. “They`d be looking for witness statements, you`re going to be looking for ballistics. You`re going to be searching his communications because now, unlike the crime of murder, the FBI has to prove intent.”
Tabman said the FBI will dig deep when investigating Purinton’s past.
“So now we`re going to look at all his writings,” Tabman said. “We`re going to be searching his computer, his web pages, his social media, and it`s unlikely that this will be the first manifestation of some sort of hatred he has.”
Tabman believes if investigators can prove Purinton acted with malice or forethought, “I believe it carries the death penalty and I think they will go for it,” he said.
Purinton waived extradition Thursday and was picked up Friday in Henry County, Mo., just after 9 a.m. to be transferred across state lines to Johnson County, Kan.
Austins Bar and Grill issued a statement on their Facebook page Thursday.
We want to express our empathy for the victims and families of this tragic event. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the victims.
We are so sorry that this happened on our premises. We have never experienced any sort of tragedy like this in our 30 years. For all of our loyal friends and patrons, we want to thank you for your ongoing support.
We will be working diligently doing anything we can to support and help the parties that were involved. We will also be giving our staff and patrons the needed time to process the event, so our 151st street location will reopen on Saturday.
Austins Bar & Grill