Donald Trump breaks silence on Kansas shooting, condemns ‘hate and evil in all forms’

US President Donald Trump broke his silence on the Kansas bar shooting on Wednesday, condemning hate “in all its ugly forms”. Addressing a joint sitting of Congress for the first time, Trump referred to threats targeting the Jewish community and the Kansas shooting, saying the nation may be divided on policies but stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms.

Prior to Trump’s speech, the Congress had observed a minute of silence for Indian techie Srinivas Kuchibhotla, who was killed last week after a veteran Navy officer opened fire in a bar in Olathe, Kansas, in an incident being described as racially motivated. The White House Tuesday released a statement on the shooting, saying early reports of the incident are “disturbing”. Press Secretary Sean Spicer, in his daily briefing, had said, “…I don’t want to get ahead of the law enforcement, but I was asked the other day about the story in Kansas — the shooting in Kansas. And while the story is evolving, early reports out of Kansas are equally disturbing.”

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders was also quoted saying the President condemns racially or religiously motivated attacks. She added that the President is “keeping the family of the victim who was senselessly killed in his thoughts and praying for the full and speedy recovery for those who were wounded.” The Trump administration has drawn criticism from other political leaders for its silence on the Kansas shooting. Hillary Clinton recently attacked Trump for his silence, tweeting, “With threats & hate crimes on rise, we shouldn’t have to tell @POTUS to do his part. He must step up & speak out.”

Trump, in his address today, said his administration is setting up a task force to protect citizens from violence crimes. He has directed the Department of Justice to form a Task Force on Reducing Violent Crime.

Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, was killed and his colleague Alok Madasani, also 32, wounded last Wednesday at a bar in Kansas after 51-year-old gunman, Adam Purinton, opened fire at them for thinking they were ‘Middle Eastern’. The incident is being investigated as a hate crime, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said on Tuesday. Kuchibhotla and Madasani worked as engineers at Garmin. An American, Ian Grillot, was wounded after trying to stop the gunman.

“Based upon the initial investigative activity, the FBI, in conjunction with the US Attorney’s Office and the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, is investigating this incident as a hate crime,” the FBI said in a statement. The agency said it would work with the Olathe Police Department and state and local partners regarding the investigation.