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Candle Light Vigil Held at India House for Shooting Victim Srinivas Kuchibhotla

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Memorial for Srinivas Kuchibhotla at India House; selfie taken by Srinivas with wife Sunayana Dumala.

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By Pramod Kulkarni

HOUSTON: One day, you’re taking a selfie with your wife at a happy occasion. Not much later, you get shot while having a drink with your colleague. That’s the tragic turn of events which took the life of Srinivas Kuchibhotla in Olathe, Kansas on Feb. 22.

A recent series of hate crimes against South Asians brought together more than 70 Houstonians of Indian origin  to attend a candle light vigil last Sunday, March 11 morning at India House, to mourn the killing of Srinivas Kuchibhotla.

Kuchibhotla, 32, was shot dead at a bar last week in an apparent hate crime. One of his colleagues at work, Alok Madasani, also an Indian and an American citizen, and bystander Ian Grillot, who tried to stop the shooter, were injured in the incident. The alleged shooter, Adam Purinton, claimed later that he had shot dead two people from Iran.

A native of Hyderabad in India, Srinivas Kuchibhotla was a computer engineer, who graduated from the University of Texas at El Paso with a masters degree in 2007, and most recently, was working Gramin, a GPS manufacturing company in Kansas City, alongside Alok Madasani.

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The vigil for Kuchibhotla was organized by Mahesh Subramanya, with the support of the Telugu Cultural Association and several other community organizations, including India House.
India House Executive Director Col. Vipin Kumar opened the vigil by reading a condolence message from the American Society of Indian Engineers (ASIE).

“Mr. Kuchibhotla will be remembered and missed by the entire engineering industry in the USA and also in India,” wrote ASIE President Dinesh Shah. “We all condemn this tragic incident. I appeal for all to stand together and stay united.”

US Congressman Pete Olson, representing the 22nd district which extends from Katy to Webster, attended the vigil, wearing a traditional kurta. “This is a bad day for all of us, but we have to be here to condemn the actions of a crazed person,” said Rep. Olson. He then asked the attendees to repeat: “If  hate is in sight, we must fight.”

Houstonians lined up to pay their respects to Kuchibhotla, including Congressman Pete Olson (left), by lighting a candle.

Houstonians lined up to pay their respects to Kuchibhotla, including Congressman Pete Olson (top), by lighting a candle.

India House Trustee Durga Agrawal brought the community’s concerns to the forefront. “Srinivas could have been my son. It could have been me or one of you.,” said Agrawal.

India House has established a fund for Ian Grillot, who was heroically injured in the incident. India House will match community donations up to the full target amount of $150,000. The fund will be handed to Grillot at the India House Gala on March 25.

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