Olathe shooting: My husband loved America, says widow

Image copyright AP Image caption Sunayana Dumala last saw her husband when he left for work on Wednesday morning

The widow of an Indian man killed in a suspected race crime in the US has said her husband "loved America" and came to the country "full of dreams".

Sunayana Dumala, who flew to India after the shooting to be with her husband's family, told the BBC she was "devastated" by his death.

Srinivas Kuchibhotla was shot dead in a bar in Olathe, Kansas. His friend Alok Madasani and an American were injured.

Adam Purinton, 51, has been charged with premeditated first-degree murder.

Ms Dumala said that couple had grown anxious about racial hatred after the election of Donald Trump, but she said her husband was "dedicated" to their life in the US and to his job as an engineer.

"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."

Image copyright Facebook Image caption From left: Srinivas Kuchibhotla, who died; Alok Madasani, who was injured; and Ian Grillot, also injured

Mr Kuchibhotla worked at the US technology company Garmin, alongside his friend Mr Madasani, who has now been released from hospital. The pair were regulars at Austin's Bar and Grill where they enjoyed sharing a drink after work.

But on Wednesday night another customer, Adam Purinton, was shouting racist slurs and told the two men they did not belong in America, witnesses said.

Mr Purinton 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 intervene.

'I asked him, is Srina dead?'

Ms Dumala last saw her husband early that morning, when he left for work. He had worked late two nights already that week and she texted him to ask him if he might bring some work home on Wednesday so they could have tea together. He told her he would be home at 19:00.

Image copyright Austins Bar & Grill Image caption Austins Bar and Grill in Olathe

At 20:00 she began to get worried and started calling friends, including Mr Madasani's wife. She saw news about a shooting at the bar, and she phoned her husband over and over again until a friend came to the house with 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.

Two policemen arrived at her house.

"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."

A growing fear of being foreign

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.

"There are three brothers. He's the youngest. I always heard stories that they were the naughtiest kids."

Image copyright AP Image caption Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Sunayana Dumala on holiday

Ms Dumala began to lose sleep after the election in November, fearful that the country the couple had come to call home would turn against them.

"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 discussed whether they should return to India but, in the end, she decided that if they minded their own business, nobody would harm them.

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.

Ms Dumala plans to return to the US, despite her husband's murder. "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.

But going on without her husband would be hard, she added.

"He is everywhere, whatever I do. His clothes are here, his side of the sink, the way he used to brush, shower. His daily prayers in that room, preparing his favourite food. It might be tough eating without him," she said.

BBC

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