LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) - A former University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), student shot dead a woman at her home in Minnesota before he drove almost 3,200km to the school and killed one professor but failed to find a third intended victim, police said.
Mainak Sarkar, 38, had intended to kill a second professor in addition to engineering professor William Klug, 39, at a small office on the campus, the police said on Thursday. He shot himself dead after the killing, they added. The shootings prompted a two-hour long lockdown on Wednesday.
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck told reporters that a search of Sarkar’s St. Paul, Minnesota, home turned up a “kill list” that included the name of the woman found dead nearby, as well as the name of the other UCLA professor, who was not harmed.
“We believe that Sarkar came to the Los Angeles area very recently, within the last couple of days,” the police chief told reporters at Los Angeles police headquarters. “He went there to kill two faculty from UCLA. He was only able to find one.” The other professor was off campus at the time, he said.
Sarkar was armed with two 9 mm pistols and multiple ammunition clips. He killed himself immediately after fatally shooting Dr Klug, said the police chief.
Police searched Sarkar’s Minnesota home after finding a note at the Los Angeles crime scene asking for someone to check on his cat.
“In the search of Sarkar’s residence in Minneapolis, a list was located,” Police chief Beck said. “The list has been described as a ‘kill list.’ That was the wording that was put on it.”
The attack appeared to be provoked by Sarkar’s belief that Dr Klug had stolen computer code from him, according to a March blog post that appeared to be written by Sarkar.
“Your enemy is my enemy. But your friend can do a lot more harm,” the post said. “Be careful about whom you trust.” Reuters was not able to confirm the authenticity of the blog.
“UCLA says there is no truth to this,” the police chief said of the alleged theft of code. “This was a making of his own imagination.”
The anger reflected in the March blog contrasted with earlier online records indicating that Sarkar had gotten along with Dr Klug. In a copy of his 2013 dissertation posted online, Sarkar thanked Dr Klug. “I would like to thank my advisor, Dr William Klug, for all his help and support,” Sarkar wrote.
The police chief said UCLA faculty members were aware that Sarkar, who graduated in 2013, harboured anger toward them. “There was some harsh language but certainly nothing that would be considered homicidal,” he said, referring to social media postings by Sarkar. His motive for killing the woman was unclear, he said.
University officials did not respond on Thursday to requests for comment on Sarkar’s claims.
Prior to his time at UCLA, from 2003 to 2005, Sarkar attended Stanford University, where he received a master’s degree in aeronautical and astronautical engineering, university spokeswoman Lisa Lapin said.
Police in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, north of Minneapolis, said they discovered the woman’s body when they went to check on her. They did not immediately disclose her identity.
Dr Klug was a married father of two children, UCLA said in a statement.
“It was really a pleasure to work with him, from a scientific point of view for his original ideas, but also from the personal point of view,” said Professor Wouter Roos at the University of Gronigen in The Netherlands who co-authored several research papers with Dr Klug. “He had such a positive attitude.”
Reports of shots fired, or even sightings of possible gunmen, have sparked heavy police responses and lockdowns at US schools and other places because of the nation’s history of mass shootings.
Last October nine people were shot and killed at Umpqua Community College in southwest Oregon. The 2007 attack at Virginia Tech, in which a gunman killed 32 people, was the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
Classes resumed at UCLA on Thursday, with the university offering counsellors for students, faculty and staff.
UCLA, part of the University of California system, has more than 43,000 students.