Kansas Man Charged With Murder in Shooting of Two Indian Men at a Bar
A man who allegedly shot two men—aviation engineers originally from India—at a bar in Olathe, Kansas, near Kansas City, on February 22, has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of one of the victims. He has also been charged with the attempted murder of the second Indian man and a third victim, who was shot when he intervened in the incident. At least one witness reportedly heard the shooter yell, “Get out of my country!” before opening fire on the two Indian men. He then fled on foot, setting off a police manhunt. Five hours later, Adam Purinton, age 51, of Olathe, reportedly told a bartender in Clinton, Missouri, that he had “just killed two Middle Eastern men.” The bartender called police, and Purinton was arrested without incident.
The motive remains under investigation. Federal officials are involved in the investigation, to determine whether the shooting was a bias-motivated hate crime. Last week, both the Johnson County, Kansas, District Attorney and the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Kansas City office both cautioned that it was too early in the investigation to determine a motive or to call the shooting a hate crime.
Interfaith Issues: Hundreds of Headstones Vandalized at Jewish Cemetery in Philadelphia
A Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia was vandalized overnight on February 25-26. Although Philadelphia police said that at least 75 to 100 headstones were toppled at Mount Carmel Cemetery, local news media estimates range from 300 to more than 500. When police responded to a call from a man reporting that the headstones of three of his relatives had been knocked over, they found widespread destruction throughout the cemetery.
The vandalism at Mount Carmel Cemetery occurred a week after a similar act of vandalism at a historic Jewish cemetery near St. Louis, and two weeks after more than 30 headstones were overturned at a Catholic cemetery in Philadelphia.
In a show of interfaith support from the local community, Quakers, Jews, and Muslims gathered at the cemetery to offer support, according to a local rabbi, and news media video showed volunteers of various faiths propping up about 50 of the toppled headstones.
Interfaith Issues: Fire at a Florida Mosque Determined to be Arson
Investigators have determined that a fire at a mosque in the Tampa area in the early morning hours of February 24 was deliberately set. Firefighters quickly extinguished the fire at one of the entrances to the Islamic Center of New Tampa. The fire did not breach the entrance (see photo), but heat activated several sprinklers, causing water damage to an area of the mosque. Investigators said holes in the door of the mosque were not caused by bullets, as initially believed. The motive for the arson remains under investigation. Investigators plan to review surveillance video from several cameras mounted on the outside walls of the mosque.
This fire occurred seven months after a series of five fires at mosques in the Tampa area last July and August, two of which have been confirmed as arson. A spokesman for Hillsborough County Fire Rescue said it is too early in the investigation to determine whether last week’s fire is connected to any of the other mosque fires in the area.