THE GUNMAN who killed a UCLA professor on Wednesday has been identified as Mainak Sarkar, a 38-year-old IIT-Kharagpur alumnus. He is also suspected to have killed a woman in Minnesota. According to the police, Sarkar had a “kill list” which included the professor and the woman.
Sarkar shot and killed Professor William Klug, 39, in the UCLA engineering building before killing himself on Wednesday — an attack that prompted a two-hour lockdown of UCLA’s sprawling campus. Sarkar, who graduated from IIT-Kharagpur in 2000 with a degree in aerospace engineering, was Klug’s former doctoral student, and had accused him of stealing his computer code and giving it to someone else.
The investigation into the murder-suicide took a more sinister turn on Thursday, when police said they suspected Sarkar first killed a woman in Minnesota, then drove to Los Angeles with two guns and ammunition to confront Klug.
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said they found a “kill list’’ at Sarkar’s home with at least three names that included Klug, the woman found dead in a Minneapolis suburb, and a second UCLA professor who was not harmed.
Sarkar left behind a note telling authorities to check on his cat at his home in Minnesota, said Beck. The note led them to a nearby home, where they found the woman shot dead. She was not identified and authorities didn’t reveal how Sarkar knew her.
Klug, a professor of mechanical engineering, had been the target of Sarkar’s anger on social media for months. Sarkar had accused the professor of stealing his computer code and giving it to someone else.
A blog post written in March said he had personal differences with Klug. “He cleverly stole all my code and gave it (to) another student… He made me really sick,’’ the post said.
“Your enemy is your enemy. But your friend can do a lot more harm. Be careful about whom you trust. Stay away from this sick guy,’’ added the post.
Beck said it appeared that mental issues were involved, and UCLA asserted that it was all in Sarkar’s imagination. Sarkar is listed on a UCLA website as a member of a computational biomechanics research group run by Klug.
The anger reflected in the March blog contrasted with a copy of his 2013 dissertation posted online in which Sarkar thanked Klug. “I would like to thank my advisor, Dr William Klug, for all his help and support. Thank you for being my mentor,” Sarkar wrote.
Before enrolling at UCLA, Sarkar earned a master’s degree at Stanford University, according to his LinkedIn page.
‘CAN’T THINK STRAIGHT’
Students took to social media to ask the university to reschedule final exams, saying they had been rattled by the shooting and lockdown and needed time to prepare.
Students said on social media on Wednesday that they had hidden behind doors that could not be locked while police searched the campus to make sure there were no other gunmen.
“How the hell am I going to study for finals when this just happened? I can’t think straight,” Bahjat Alirani, a UCLA bioengineering student said on Twitter.
“Students need time to process today. Hope my colleagues seriously consider postponing finals this week. Let’s help everyone heal,” Tyrone Howard, a UCLA associate dean and professor of education, said on Twitter.
Reports of shots fired at U.S. schools, or even sightings of a gunman, typically bring heavy police responses and lockdowns because of the nation’s history of mass shootings. They include the nine people shot at Umpqua Community College in southwest Oregon last October and the 2007 attack at Virginia Tech where a gunman shot dead 32 people, the deadliest mass shooting in US history.
Klug, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, specialized in biomechanics, including the workings of the human heart, according to UCLA’s website.
“You cannot ask for a nicer, gentler, sweeter and more supportive guy than William Klug,” professor Alan Garfinkel told the Times of his colleague.
Engineering student Aaron Feigelman said he received a text message alerting him to the emergency on Wednesday and entered an adjacent building, where he and five others took refuge for 90 minutes.
“We tied the bathroom door hinges with belts to keep the door closed because there were no locks. And we just waited. It was really scary,” Feigelman said.
Police recovered a gun and what may be a suicide note at the scene, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said. UCLA, with more than 43,000 students, is one of the more well-regarded schools in the University of California system.