The Mayor of a town called Manhattan in Kansas, Usha Reddi, while expressing anxiety over the shooting of two Indian engineers in Olathe, Kansas, last Thursday, has termed the act as an isolated incident, and that it doesn’t reflect the values of Kansas or the United States.
The Indian American Reddi, who immigrated to the United States when she was eight, said she received a number of calls from family members across the country and even from family, who live in a small village in India, making sure that she was safe, reported 13 WIBW.
In the Thursday shooting at Austins Bar and Grill in Olathe, Srinivas Kuchibhotla died, and his colleague and friend Alok Reddy Madasani got injured. An American Ian Grillot received gunshot injuries too. The accused Adam Purinton is in custody.
“I needed to let them know that everything was okay,” said Reddi. “At the same time I was kind of concerned about my own children even though they grew up in Manhattan, Kansas.”
Reddi said that while the shooting was an isolated incident, she said it has certainly raised fears among immigrants, particularly Indian-Americans.
“There is a little anxiety because you realize this can happen, it can happen to you,” said Reddi, but tried to allay fears by saying: “America is a wonderful country,” said Reddi.
“Being an immigrant and being elected to an office and now being mayor that speaks volumes to the citizens of the United States and particularly Manhattan Kansas. You don’t see that happening everywhere else.”
Reddi said she plans to lead by example and hopes other immigrants will feel welcomed in Manhattan and Kansas.
“As fearful or anxiety ridden as we may be it’s still a great place to live,” said Reddi. “It’s still one of the best places to be, I still feel comfortable walking down the street everyday.”
Usha, who has lived in Manhattan for more than 23 years, has a bachelor of arts degree in developmental psychology from Ohio State University, a bachelor of science degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Kansas State University. Usha and her husband, Brian, have four children: Ben, Ravi, Sri and Santhi.
In the community, Usha served on the boards for Manhattan-Ogden USD 383 Diversity Commission, League of Women Voters, Manhattan Housing Authority, Flint Hills Metropolitan Planning Organization, Flint Hills Regional Transit Administration, and the Manhattan Convention and Visitors Bureau Steering Committee. She was president of National Education Association Manhattan-Ogden and was USD 383 Teacher of the Year for 2010-2011.
She is currently serving on the Riley County Police Department Law Board, Friends of McCain Board of Directors, Martin Luther King Day planning committee, National Association of Mental Illness, Flint Hills National Association of Mental Illness, Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, Manhattan Public Library, and Justice Involved Youth and Adults Subcommittee.
Reddi is a teacher in the Manhattan-Ogden school district.
She released a statement to the people of Manhattan, Kansas:
Dear Manhattan Family,
Much has happened in the past few days. The devastating and horrific shootings in Olathe have given us reason to pause and reflect.
Manhattan is a diverse, welcoming and safe community; however, our sense of security is shaken by such acts of violence. Manhattan is a wonderful city with extraordinary people that work hard to make it a great place to live.
I promise to do whatever I can to relieve anxiety, discomfort or pain that our friends and family are experiencing. Please reach out to one another for emotional and mental support. We must strive to be free of hatred and embrace our blessings.
You are in good hands in Manhattan. We are an extended family.