Sunayana Dumala says she spent nights lying awake after Donald Trump was elected president in November. She worried about the increasingly hostile climate toward foreigners ― people like her and her husband, who came to the U.S. from India.
Dumala’s husband, Srinivas Kuchibhotla, was fatally shot on Wednesday in a bar in Olathe, Kansas. Witnesses say a man yelled racial slurs and told the victim and his friend to “get out of my country.”
Dumala, who has since returned to India to be with her husband’s family, told the BBC on Saturday that she was fearful in the face of what she considered to be a growing hatred and intolerance toward foreigners.
“I was like, ‘Srini, will we be safe in this country? I’m so worried. I think hate crimes will be more open now. Will it be safe for us to go to the mall? For us to go to [the] office?’” she said.
Dumala said her husband hugged her and told her not to worry.
We’ve read many times in newspapers of some kind of shooting happening everywhere. And we always wondered, how safe are we? Are we doing the right thing?
Kuchibhotla, a 32-year-old aviation engineer for Garmin, “loved America,” Dumala said. She described her husband as optimistic, loving and encouraging. He was driven to succeed in his field, and they were planning to start a family after buying what she called their “dream home” in Olathe.
Kuchibhotla had recently finished painting their living room, she said.
“My husband came to the United States with a lot of dreams in his mind. We made the United States our home,” Dumala said Friday at a gathering at Garmin’s U.S. headquarters in Olathe. “We’ve read many times in newspapers of some kind of shooting happening everywhere. And we always wondered, how safe are we? Are we doing the right thing?”
“He always assured me that only good things happen to good people,” she added. “Always think good. Always be good. And good will happen to you.”
The night he was killed, Kuchibhotla was enjoying after-work drinks with his friend and co-worker, 32-year-old Alok Madasani, at Austin’s Bar and Grill.
Adam W. Purinton, 51, yelled racial slurs at the two Indian men and asked if they were in the country illegally, according to witnesses. Purinton was asked to leave, but later returned with a gun. He allegedly shot both men and Ian Grillot, a 24-year-old bar patron who tried to intervene.
Trump hasn’t addressed the shooting. White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Friday that any loss of life is tragic, but that it was “absurd” to connect Trump’s stance on immigration to Kuchibhotla’s death.
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