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Survivor Calls On Trump To Denounce Racial Shooting At Olathe Bar

Alex Smith
Ian Grillot, 24, of Olathe met with reporters at the University of Kansas Hospital on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, the Olathe bar shooting survivor being hailed as a hero joined the chorus of people calling on President Trump to denounce the targeting of two men because of their race.

Ian Grillot, 24, who tried to stop a gunman when he opened fire at Austins Bar & Grill last Wednesday, says he believes the shooter singled out the two Indian victims because of their ethnicity and hopes President Trump will address the incident.

“It would be nice for [Trump] to give some closure because I know people all around the world are waiting for something,” Grillot says. “He made statements on the Oscars and this, that and the other, but not [the shooting]. That took lives.”

Later Tuesday, the White House did condemn the shootings, telling reporters that the incident appears to be "an act of racially motivated hatred."

"I want to reiterate, the president condemns these or any other racially or religiously motivated attacks in the strongest terms," Sarah Sanders, a Trump spokeswoman, says. "They have no place in our country."

On Tuesday, as victim Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, was being buried in his hometown in southern India, the FBI announced that it would be investigating the incident as a hate crime, opening the door for federal charges.

Already, Adam Purinton, 51, has been charged with first-degree murder in a Kansas court. He was arrested at an Applebee’s in Clinton, Missouri, a few hours after the shooting where he reportedly told a bartender that he had just shot two Iranian men.

Purinton is accused of shooting Kuchibhotla and his friend Alok Madasani, 32, both Garmin engineers, after using racial slurs and reportedly telling them to “Get out of my country!” Kuchibhotla’s widow has called on the government about what it planned to do about the “hate crime.” Madasani survived and was released from the hospital over the weekend.

U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, a Kansas Republican, on Tuesday announced that he had urged Trump to “condemn hateful acts” like the Olathe shooting, and said he hoped Trump would do that during his address before Congress slated for Tuesday night.

“I’ve been clear that the president must use this amazing platform to condemn this hateful act in no uncertain terms and send a powerful message that no American should be fearful in their own community,” Yoder says.

The day before, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton also tweeted that Trump should “step up and speak out” about the shootings.

Trump spokesman Sean Spicer has said it is too early to call the shootings a hate crime, but described it as "disturbing."

Grillot, who is still in the University of Kansas Hospital with wounds to his hand and his chest, met with reporters in a green patient robe and speaking with a voice made raspy by the gunfire.

Grillot told reporters that he’s grateful for the international outpouring of support he’s received. He hopes the incident will help turn around what he sees as a divisive mood in the U.S.

“Life is too short for hate and anger. There’s no reason for it,” Grillot says. “Yeah, you might get just a little mad at your neighbor, but I betcha a little grilling session of some hamburgers and hot dogs and a cold beer oughta solve that.”

Doctor say they expect Grillot to be released in a few days.

Peggy Lowe joined Harvest Public Media in 2011, returning to the Midwest after 22 years as a journalist in Denver and Southern California. Most recently she was at The Orange County Register, where she was a multimedia producer and writer. In Denver she worked for The Associated Press, The Denver Post and the late, great Rocky Mountain News. She was on the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news coverage of Columbine. Peggy was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan in 2008-09. She is from O'Neill, the Irish Capital of Nebraska, and now lives in Kansas City. Based at KCUR, Peggy is the analyst for The Harvest Network and often reports for Harvest Public Media.
Alex Smith began working in radio as an intern at the National Association of Farm Broadcasters. A few years and a couple of radio jobs later, he became the assistant producer of KCUR's magazine show, KC Currents. In January 2014 he became KCUR's health reporter.