Houston’s India House honors man who intervened in Kansas bar shooting

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The Houston Indian community came together last weekend to present a $100,000 check to the Kansas man who tried to save two Hindu immigrants from a gunman at a bar outside Kansas City.

Ian Grillot, 24, was hailed as a hero after he intervened on Feb. 22 when a Kansas man reportedly shouted “get out of my country” before opening fire at Austins Bar & Grill in Olathe, killing one man and wounding Grillot and another.

On Saturday, Houstonians heaped praises on the brave construction worker during India House’s annual gala.

“The reason that we decided to honor Ian is the he represents the true America,” gala chair Jiten Agarwal said Tuesday. “Sometimes people forget that there are people like Ian and they are a majority, not the people behind these hate crimes. They are a minority.”

Agarwal first connected with Grillot in a mid-March phone call.

“I said that we are having this annual event at India House and we would like to honor him and he accepted,” Agarwal said.

But at the time, Grillot didn’t know there was any money involved. When he showed up for the event – with his arm still in a cast – Grillot took to the stage for his honors, but broke into tears after finding out about the $100,000 gift.

“It was an overwhelming experience,” Agarwal said.

The funding for the donation came from members of the local Indian community, including Charlie Yalamanchili, an India House board member who offered to match every dollar donated.

“He saved a fellow human being; he saved one life but he got hurt,” Yalamanchili said. “Because of that, he is a hero.”

The families of both of the Indian men hit by the gunfire were already well-supported by their communities, Agarwal said. And an online fundraising campaign for Grillot’s medical expenses brought in more than $400,000. So the Houston-based charity offered its donation to help Grillot buy a house in his hometown.

The award presentation at Saturday’s gala drew a number of well-known local figures and politicians, including Mayor Sylvester Turner, Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, star chef Vikas Khanna, Indian Ambassador to the U.S. Navtej Sarna, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and more.

Grillot’s quick-thinking action “demonstrates that one person can make a difference,” Turner said Saturday. “I want to thank Ian for just stepping up, for demonstrating what it means to be our brother’s keeper.”

Although Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, was killed in the altercation, his friend Alok Madasani, also 32, was wounded.

Now, Adam Purinton, 51, is facing a murder and attempted murder charge in the case, which the FBI is investigating as a hate crime.

The chaos unfolded after Purinton confronted the two Indian men in the bar, asking whether their “status was legal,” according to an affidavit released Monday. It’s not clear what else happened during that initial exchange, as sections of the document have been redacted.

Purinton left after Grillot and another person confronted him. But he 30 minutes later he returned, with a weapon.

“He’s back and he has a gun!” Madasani heard people saying, just before a bullet tore into his leg.
Grillot jumped in and started chasing Purinton, thinking the alleged shooter was out of ammunition.

But he was wrong and Purinton shot him once. The bullet went through his hand and lodged in this chest.

“I don’t know if I could’ve lived with myself if I wouldn’t have stopped or attempted to stop the shooter because that would’ve been completely devastating,” Grillot said later in a statement.

Authorities collared Purinton hours later at an Applebee’s 70 miles away in Clinton, Missouri. The bartender who called 911 said the man had admitted to shooting two people, who he described as Iranian.

After his arrest, Purinton was jailed in Johnson County, Kansas, on $2 million bond.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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