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Olathe shooting: Survivor and widow tell the BBC their stories

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

Last Wednesday evening in Olathe, Kansas, two Indian men in their early 30s met for a few post-work beers in Austins Bar.

Both would be shot by a stranger that night in a suspected race hate crime, along with a 24-year-old American who attempted to intervene.

Engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, died of his injuries.

His friend Alok Madasani was hit in the leg – but survived.

Mr Madasani told the BBC how the shocking attack unfolded as the two colleagues sat in the sun, chatting about films.


The quiet beer that ended in tragedy:

Olathe shooting survivor Alok Madasani tells the BBC his story

“Srinivas and I had known each for almost nine years. During weekdays we tried to get a beer or two and chill after a long day’s work.

“On that day the weather was just so perfect that neither of us could do what we do regularly – which is work till seven o’clock and then go home.

“We typically drink Jamieson’s whiskey, but that day the weather was so nice we ordered Miller Lite beers.

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

“We were talking in our language – Telugu. We were having a conversation about one of our friends at work who wanted to watch Bollywood movies… ‘What movies do you think we should suggest?’.

“This guy just randomly comes up and starts pointing fingers. We knew something was wrong, but there was a [basketball] game going on so it was very loud.

“He came towards me and said, which country are you from? Are you here illegally?

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“I went straight inside to get the manager, and I should have taken Srinivas inside with me as well.

“These fellow Americans escorted him [the stranger] inside. All I heard was, ‘This is not how you talk to guys like these – let’s go.'”

‘He’s back with a gun’

The two men then went back into the bar to order some fried pickles and two final beers. The TV was blaring as the basketball game continued.

“There was cheering and suddenly I could hear – I don’t know who said it – all I heard was – ‘He’s back with a gun.’

“I heard a pop. Next thing I know I was right on the ground. I dove for my life. I heard two to three go off again. He came from behind so I didn’t even see what he was aiming at.

“I’m not sure if when I was trying to get up is when I got hit, or when I was down. From that moment onwards, I tried to get up and I just couldn’t.

Media captionShooting victim “knew something was wrong”

“I heard people yelling. I didn’t pass out – I was trying to get up, and all I saw was Srinivas lying there motionless.”

“One guy, Brad – he removed his shirt and tied it to my leg. He saw that my jeans was filled with blood and he didn’t know what to do. The best thing to do at that time … he just took out his shirt and wrapped it around this leg so tight that I just couldn’t do anything. He definitely saved my life.

“The ambulances came, and when they put me on the stretcher, Srinivas was still there.

“I was under the impression that his injury wasn’t serious, so we could go home that night. I was telling the doctor to wrap it up, that we didn’t want our significant others to know that we were in a shoot-out.

Image copyright Kranti Shalia via AP
Image caption Srinivas, left, pictured with his friend Alok and wife Sunayana Dumala

Police officers broke the news to Alok that Srinivas had died of his wounds. Alok’s left thigh was hit by a ricocheting bullet, leaving him on crutches. The doctors told him the injury will take two to three months to heal.


Fears over Facebook – then the police came to her door:

Widow Sunayana Dumala tells the BBC how she learned of the tragedy

On the night of her husband’s murder, Sunayana Dumala texted him to ask when he was coming home. He told her around 7pm. She urged him to make it sooner.

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

“I will show you his last text message… You might not understand the language. I asked him, when will you come home? He said, 7-ish – why?

“I said, is it because of work? – he stayed late on Tuesday night. – Can you come home and work? Let’s have tea together!

Time passed, and Srinivas failed to show up. Sunayana tried his phone, and when she couldn’t reach him assumed that he had switched it off.

“I messaged [Alok’s wife] Ripti asking, is Alok home? She said no – one of their cricket friends met with some accident, and they’re doing some stitches to the leg and it might be beyond midnight too.

“Like a very stupid girl, I believed that. Then she messaged me again, asking the name of the bar they usually go. I said Austins, and I asked why?

Media captionSunayana Dumala says she told her husband she was worried about hate crimes

“I was having my dinner, and I have this habit of scrolling through Facebook, which he never used to like.

Then I saw some video, some shooting, and I was like – has something happened again? Who is hurt? Then I see the name Austins. I started connecting why they asked.

After reading that the shooting victims had been taken to University of Kansas hospital, Sunayana wanted to go there – but two police officers arrived at her home to tell her the worst had happened.

“Two cops came, they knocked on the door. They asked my name, Srina’s name, his date of birth… then they told me those words and they just said it so simply. They said they’re sorry, but…

“I went to the hospital. I had to go through a security check. It’s a hospital policy. My husband is lying there dead, and they said I needed to go through a security check. They did not allow me inside. they said they needed to follow the procedures of autopsy and everything.

“Detectives came. One FBI representative and one local cop.

‘He is everywhere, whatever I do’

“We came here with so many dreams. He personally wanted to do so much for this country. He studied here, he made so many friends.

“I am so worried. I think hate crime will be more open now. Will it be safe for us to go to a mall? Will it be safe for us to go to the office?

“Now I feel I have to show people here – you’ve taken away my love, but I’m here to spread love.

“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.

“He was a very loved child. His father’s most trusted son for any kind of advice. He recently purchased a car for his dad. He was so happy and so proud about it.

“There are three brothers. He’s the youngest. Whenever they did something naughty their father would run behind them in the house. This one [Srinivas] used to be the fastest. After running three or four times my husband used to feel bad for his father. He used to stop and get the beatings for all three. That’s how kind he was.”

Media captionKansas widow: ‘We thought about leaving US’

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