The gunman who killed a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, before committing suicide on Wednesday had also murdered his own wife. According to media reporters, the assailant identified as 38-year-old Mainak Sarkar, shot his wife Ashley Hasti dead in Minnesota earlier in the week before driving nearly 3,220 kilometres to Los Angeles to target his former professor William Klug, police and local media said.
Police found a note in Sarkar’s backpack, which led them to Minnesota where they found a “kill list”. Los Angeles police chief Charlie Beck said Klug and Hasti were named on the list, along with another UCLA professor, AFP reported. “We believe he went there to kill two faculty of UCLA. He was only able to locate one. The second member was off campus,” Beck added. According to officials in Minnesota, he was married to Hasti on June 14, 2011, but it was unclear whether the couple were still married at the time of their deaths.
Sarkar was an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Technology-Kharagpur. In a now-deleted blog post on March 10, he alleged that Klug stole his computer code and gave it to another student. “I was this guy’s PhD student. We had personal differences... He is a very sick person. I urge every new student coming to UCLA to stay away from this guy...,” he wrote. Beck said this “appeared to be his motive, but UCLA denied any truth to it.
The IIT-Kharagpur alumnus opened fire on the UCLA campus at 10 am, forcing varsity authorities to declare a lockdown. A citywide alert was issued as police forces moved in to contain the shooter. Sarkar was found dead after two hours of combing operations. The campus was declared safe, but classes were cancelled for the rest of the day. Students and staff affected by the shooting have been offered counselling.