WASHINGTON: US lawmakers publicly denounced the killing of an Indian engineer by an American navy veteran in an apparent hate crime in Kansas City, saying there is no place for these senseless acts of violence in the country.
Srinivas Kuchibhotla, a 32-year-old working at GPS-maker Garmin headquarters in Olathe, died of bullet injuries at a hospital after he was shot by the navy veteran yelling "get out of my country" and "terrorist" at a bar on Wednesday night in Kansas City in the state of Missouri. His Indian colleague Alok Madasani was critically injured when the 51-year-old veteran opened fire on them. A third person, an American who tried to intervene, was also injured.
"We can't let hatred win," said Indian-American Senator from California Kamala Harris. "Extremely saddened to hear the news out of Kansas. My sympathies go out to the victims and their families," the Democratic Senator said in a tweet.
"My thoughts are with the victims and families shaken by the shooting in Kansas. Senseless acts of violence have no place in our country. I'm heartbroken by this tragedy," said Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal. Jayapal is the first Indian-American woman ever elected to the US House of Representatives.
The incident has reignited fears of hate crimes among the immigrant Indian community. According to eyewitnesses, the shooter believed the victims were from the Middle East. Jayapal said since Donald Trump's election as the US president in November, hate crimes have risen as a result of his administration's controversial ideas against immigrants. In the Seattle suburb of Redmond, a Muslim Association of Puget Sound mosque was twice vandalised since the election. "This is not normal. We must declare our entire country a hate-free zone and fight to protect it as such. During this moment of tragedy, I stand with Indian-Americans, Muslim- Americans, and all groups impacted by the dangerous rhetoric coming out of the Trump administration," Jayapal added.
Indian-American Congressman from California Ro Khanna in a statement said his condolences go out to the families of the men involved in this senseless act of violence in Kansas City. "Any act of violence fuelled by hatred and xenophobia and prejudice cannot be tolerated. I have faith in local and federal law enforcement to justly investigate this shooting as a hate crime," Khanna said.
Democratic Congressman from California Brad Sherman said the victims and their families were in his thoughts and prayers. "Xenophobia and hatred do not belong in America."