Kansas bar shooting
Adam Purinton, 51, of Olathe, Kansas is a US navy veteran who has been charged with premeditated first-degree murder for killing Srinivas Kuchibhotla, an Indian engineer in a possible hate crime Clinton Police Department/Handout via REUTERS

The White House on Friday (24 February) played down reports that the fatal shooting of an Indian national in Kansas in a possible hate crime was inspired by US President Donald Trump's "America first" rhetoric.

Spokesman Sean Spicer said that any loss of life was tragic, but it would be absurd to link the killing to Trump's position on immigrants. He said it was too early to guess the motive of the attack.

Adam Purinton, a US navy veteran has been charged with premeditated first-degree murder for killing Srinivas Kuchibhotla on Wednesday (22 February) night at a bar in Olathe, Kansas.

Kuchibhotla was an engineer from South Indian city of Hyderabad. His fellow Indian friend Alok Madasani and an American were also hurt in the gun attack.

The attack left millions of Indians expressing shock and anger over the killing and blamed Trump for fuelling a climate of intolerance.

Indians expressed "our deep concern over the incident" to the US government and requested a "thorough and speedy investigation", Pratik Mathur, spokesman for the Indian embassy in Washington, said.

India's foreign minister Sushma Swaraj conveyed her condolences to the victim's family and assured to provide "all help and assistance".

The FBI has launched an investigation to look at whether the attack was a hate crime.

According to witnesses at the Olathe bar, the 51-year-old accused shouted, "Get out of my country" before opening fire at Kuchibhotla and his friend. The gunman reportedly thought the victims were from the Middle East, Reuters reports.

Kuchibhotla and Madasani, both 32, were engineers working with US technology company Garmin. Both were Indian graduates and had earned postgraduate degrees in the US.

Kuchibhotla's wife, Sunayana Dumala, said her husband was a "loveable soul", while his parents were too shocked by the news of his death to comment, AP reported.

"He did not deserve a death like this," Dumala said. "I don't know what to say. We've read many times in newspapers of some kind of shooting happening somewhere. I was always concerned, 'Are we doing the right thing staying in the U.S. or America?' But he always assured me good things happen in America."

If convicted, Purinton would face a life sentence for 50 years and would not be eligible for parole, District Attorney Stephen Howe told reporters. He is being held on $2m bond, and he has not yet appeared in court because an attorney has not been formally assigned to his case.

Purinton is also accused of hurting American Ian Grillot, 24. He was shot as he tried to intervene and was seen as a hero.

Kuchibhotla's company, Garmin, said it was "devastated by the senseless tragedy" and flew the office flag at half-mast on Friday (24 February).