Microsoft CEO condemns bigotry after Indian engineer's death

Commentary: Garmin holds a vigil after two Indian engineers are shot, one fatally. Murder charges have been brought. Satya Nadella says there's no place for bigotry.

Chris Matyszczyk
3 min read

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Satya Nadella speaks out after alleged murder of Garmin engineer.

Stephen Brashear, Getty Images

Some say it's a hate crime.

Others say that the alleged killer was merely a drunk who got out of hand.

The facts, though, are that Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani, two Indian-born engineers working for GPS company Garmin, were having drinks in Austin's Bar and Grill in Olathe, Kansas, on Wednesday night.

They were approached by a man -- now identified as 51-year-old Adam Purinton.

As the Washington Post reports, witnesses say that Purinton was kicked out of the bar before returning with a gun and shooting both men. Kuchibhotla died, Madasani survived. A third man who tried to intervene, Ian Grillot, was also shot.

Purinton has now been arrested and charged with premeditated first-degree murder and two counts of attempted premeditated first-degree murder.

Madasani told the New York Times that Purinton had asked them racially charged questions.

"He asked us what visa are we currently on and whether we are staying here illegally," Madasani said. The Post also reported that Purinton had yelled: "Get out of my country." In fact the men, both 32, had studied in Kansas and were employed legally.

While Purinton's mother told the Times that her son's alleged actions were out of character, some have suggested that the killing reflects the greater voice that has been lent to suspicion of immigrants in recent times.

"The citizens of Olathe have surrounded the victims of this horrible event with care, compassion, and support," a police department spokesman told me. He added that the community has raised around $1 million for them.

A Garmin spokeswoman told me that the company held a vigil on Sunday to honor Kuchibhotla.

"Garmin is a global family with associates from all nationalities and religions and we are proud to embrace our differences," she said. "Our diversity helps to foster new ideas and makes Garmin a strong company."

She added that the company "will continue to support the families of Srinivas and Alok through this difficult time."

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella -- himself an Indian immigrant -- took to Twitter on Friday to make his feelings very clear: "There's no place for senseless violence & bigotry in our society. My heart is with the victims & families of the horrific shooting in Kansas."

Tech companies thrive with overseas employees, many from India. As well as Nadella, Google CEO Sundar Pichai also hails from India. Some estimates suggest that as many as 15 percent of tech startups have Indians at their heart.

Meanwhile, Madasani's father, Jaganmohan, told the Hindustan Times that he'd urged his son to return home.

"The situation seems to be pretty bad after Trump took over as the US president. I appeal to all the parents in India not to send their children to the US in the present circumstances," he said.

Update, 12:35 p.m. PT: Adds comment from Olathe Police Department.

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