External Affairs

Indian-Americans Honour Man Who Intervened in Kansas Shooting

Houston’s Indian-American community raised $100,000 to help Ian Grillot buy a house in his hometown, Kansas.

India’s ambassador to the US Navtej Sarna hands over to Ian Grillot  a cheque of $100,000 raised by the Indian American community at the 14th annual gala of India House Houston on Sunday. Credit: PTI

India’s ambassador to the US Navtej Sarna hands over to Ian Grillot a cheque of $100,000 raised by the Indian American community at the 14th annual gala of India House Houston on Sunday. Credit: PTI

Houston, US: A young American who took a bullet while trying to save two Indians has been honoured as ‘a true American hero’ by Houston’s Indian-American community, which raised $100,000 to help him buy a house in his hometown Kansas.

“On behalf of the Indian-American community in Houston, India House recognised this selfless act beyond the call of duty and has extended the community’s gratitude to Ian Grillot by helping him to buy a house,” said a statement posted on the India House Houston Facebook page.

India’s ambassador to the US Navtej Sarna handed over the cheque to Grillot, who was honoured at the 14th annual gala of India House Houston.

Grillot, 24, was injured when he tried to grab a Kansas gunman – 51-year-old navy veteran Adam Purinton – who shot at two Indians last month at a bar-cum-grill in Olathe, Kansas. Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, was killed and his colleague Alok Madasani was critically injured in the shooting.

India House, a community centre built by Americans of Indian origin in the Greater Houston area, raised the $100,000 as part of an initiative supported by Anupam Ray, India’s consul-general in Houston, to help Grillot buy a house in his hometown, the Facebook statement said.

Grillot said it was a powerful message. “I don’t know if I could’ve lived with myself if I wouldn’t have stopped or attempted to stop the shooter because that would’ve been completely devastating,” he said.

“I do now have a very powerful message and if I can help empower people and spread hope and love, then why not? I am honoured to be at India House that serves so many families from so many communities in the Houston area.”

Sarna said it was a “great privilege” to meet Grillot and his parents. “I was keen to come here today because I was told that Ian Grillot will be honoured… He is a young man who has shown exceptional courage, strength of very fundamental human values. No amount of honour that India or the Indian Americans bestow on him will be enough for that moment of exceptional fortitude and character,” Sarna added.

Ray said the vibrant Indian diaspora in America has always contributed towards the society and economy of the US. “They are the ambassadors of Indian culture. They are playing a vital role in strengthening the ties between the two nations and cultures.”

Popular Indian chef Vikas Khanna, another guest of honour at the event, spoke about his experience as an immigrant and the struggles immigrants go through.

“When they give up everything familiar behind and come to a new land, like an alien, you come as a no person here, you have so much faith in this country that you give everything to it, but still you get bullied. But then there are people like Ian Grillot, who… give you hope and courage to follow your dream,” Khanna said.

“It is not every day that one meets a genuine hero – a person who risks his life for another, and takes a bullet for a complete stranger. Ian Grillot is a man who reminds us of the promise of America and its greatness,” said Jiten Agarwal, a prominent Houstonian and Chair of the annual gala.

Nisha D. Biswal, former assistant secretary of state for South/Central Asia, recalled the “very distinct honour of serving in the Obama administration”. Biswal said it was a “particularly wonderful experience” for someone who was “born in India and emigrated to US at the age of five. “I am living the American dream,” Biswal added.