Srinivas Kuchibhotla's Widow Wants Answers

by Abby Johnston

The Kansas City suburb of Olathe, Kansas is reeling after an attack on two Indian men on Wednesday night which left one person dead. Two coworkers had stopped in at Austins Bar and Grill for a drink, something that they pair did often enough to be known by some of the waitstaff as the "Jameson Guys." In an instant, one of them was gone. And now, Sunayana Dumala, the widow of Srinivas Kuchibhotla, is looking for answers.

According to witnesses at the bar, a man directed ethnic slurs at Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani, both 32-year-old Indian immigrants, while they were having drinks. The man was thrown out after customers complained, but he returned and allegedly fired on the two men. Kuchibhotla was killed, and Madasani — along with a man who chased down the gunman — was wounded. The FBI is investigating the attack as a hate crime.

At a press conference on Friday, Dumala said that she had expressed reservations about staying in the United States, fearing that immigrants could potentially be targeted. "We've read many times in newspapers of some kind of shooting happening everywhere. And we always wondered, how safe, or I especially, I was always concerned: Are we doing the right thing of staying in the United States of America?" Dumala said at the press conference, which was held at Garmin, where her husband had been an engineer. "But he always assured me that only good things happen to good people."

Dumala will return to India for her husband's funeral. At the press conference, she said that she wanted to return to their home in Olathe after the funeral, but needs reassurances from American authorities before making a final decision. "I need an answer,” she said. “I need an answer from the government. ...What are they going to do to stop this hate crime?”

Dumala, like her husband, came over from India to attend school in the U.S. According to the Kansas City Star, the two met online when Dumala was considering attending the University of Texas-El Paso, where Kuchibhotla received his master's. They married in 2012, after dating for six years. Dumala said that the moved to Olathe the year they got married and bought their "dream house."

Kuchibhotla's widow went four years without work, but she credited her husband in boosting her confidence to land her current position as a data systems developer. Dumala said that the gunman had taken a "very lovable soul."