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CSUN Shooting-Suicide Laid to Grade Dispute

Times Staff Writer

The fatal shooting of an associate professor by a former student Wednesday at California State University, Northridge, was the result of an argument over a grade the instructor gave the student a year ago, Los Angeles police said Thursday.

The student shot computer science teacher Djamshid (Amir) Asgari twice and then fatally shot himself in the face after confronting Asgari in a stairwell between the third and fourth floors of the CSUN Engineering Building, Lt. Warren Knowles said.

Asgari, 35, of Chatsworth, died several hours later at Northridge Hospital Medical Center.

The student, a 25-year-old Northridge resident, was pronounced dead at the scene. His name was not disclosed pending notification of his family in Amman, Jordan.

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Gun, Three Shells Found

Next to the body was a 9-millimeter handgun, three shells and the student’s knapsack, police said.

The student was enrolled in one of Asgari’s computer science classes during the semester that ended in January, 1986, Knowles said.

The detective said he learned initially from campus sources that Asgari had failed the student, and that the student had pleaded to no avail with Asgari to allow him to withdraw from the class rather than receive the F. Knowles said he also was told that the student had appealed the grade unsuccessfully to school administrators.

Some Sort of Change

But an examination by police of the student’s transcript revealed that “something was crossed out and a W (for withdrawal) inserted to replace whatever it was that was crossed out,” Knowles said.

It was unknown Thursday who changed the grade, when it was changed, or whether either of the two men had known about the change, he said.

“It was very simply a student who was very upset about the grade, and didn’t receive the response that he wanted, either from the professor or the school administration . . . obviously, it became the focal point of his life,” Knowles said.

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The student’s CSUN identification card expired last month, Knowles said, and investigators are unsure whether he had remained enrolled at the school.

The student confronted Asgari after the professor left a computer programming class in a third-floor classroom shortly before 7 p.m. to retrieve some papers from his office on the fourth floor, Knowles said.

Arrived in 1984

According to Alfonso F. Ratcliffe, dean of CSUN’s School of Engineering and Computer Science, the Iranian-born Asgari came to CSUN in 1984. Since 1985, he also worked part time as a computer consultant at the Rocketdyne division of Rockwell International in Canoga Park, Ratcliffe said.

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Asgari held a doctorate from Northwestern University, the dean said.

He is survived by his wife and an 11-month-old child.

Students said Asgari was a demanding teacher.

“He didn’t make it easy . . .,” graduate student William Church, 29, said. “But I don’t think he was unreasonable.”

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Young Kwan, 21, a CSUN junior who recently took two classes from Asgari, said that with grades, “When he made up his mind he wouldn’t change it for anybody.”


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