OLATHE, Kan. (CN) – The man accused of shooting three people and killing one in a Kansas bar last year pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree murder and two counts of first-degree attempted murder in a Johnson County courtroom Tuesday.
Adam Purinton, 52, walked into Austin’s Bar and Grill on Feb. 22, 2017, and shot Indian nationals Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani in what investigators called a hate crime. Bystander Ian Grillot was also shot when he tried to confront and chase down Purinton.
Purinton, wearing an orange jail jumpsuit, expressed no emotion as he pleaded guilty to all three counts before Judge Charles Droege. Last November, he pleaded not guilty to the three charges. At times, Purinton’s public defender Michael McCulloh placed his hand on Purinton’s back as he answered questions from the judge.
Prosecutors Will Hurst and Aubrey Sample of the Johnson County District Attorney’s office worked out a plea agreement with Purinton, but details of that agreement were not discussed.
According to court documents, Purinton confronted Kuchibhotla and Madasani, two Garmin engineers, asking if their “status was legal.”
Purinton left the bar after Grillot and another man asked him to leave. However, Purinton returned to the bar with a handgun, according to witness reports.
Madasani said he heard someone yell “He’s back and he’s got a gun.” Purinton shot Madasani in the leg and shot Kuchibhotla three times. Grillot, who chased Purinton, was shot once in the chest.
Purinton was later arrested at an Applebee’s in Clinton, Missouri, after telling a bartender there he needed a place to hide because he had shot two Iranians.
The shooting drew national attention to hate-based crimes last year, even compelling President Donald Trump to mention it in his first speech to a joint session of Congress.
Purinton still faces federal hate crime charges that could potentially carry the death penalty. He faces life in prison for the first-degree murder charge and 12 to 54 years for each count of attempted murder. Although Kansas has the death penalty, there have been no executions in the state since 1965.
Purinton is scheduled to be sentenced on May 4.