A 57-year-old Cal State Fullerton employee was killed Monday morning in a targeted attack that left the campus community frightened and in mourning on the first day of the university’s academic year.
The assailant, who has not been named by authorities, was still at large early Tuesday.
Fullerton police responded to reports of an assault with a deadly weapon at 8:30 a.m. in the parking lot near the College Park building.
Police found Steven Shek Keung Chan of Hacienda Heights inside a silver Infiniti, bleeding from his head, with multiple stab wounds to his body. Police found an “incendiary device” near the vehicle that showed the suspect targeted the victim.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Department Bomb Squad was called to the scene to investigate a backpack that had been found under the victim’s vehicle. Lt. Jon Radus described the “crude” incendiary device as “something capable of starting a fire.”
The device was not set off. It had to be set off manually.
The suspect, a man in his 20s with black hair, black pants and a black shirt, was last seen running toward the Marriott area near Langsdorf Drive and Nutwood Avenue, police said. Officers deployed police dogs to search for him.
In a statement on Twitter, the Cal State Fullerton Police Department warned students and staff not to confront the suspect.
Chan served as Cal State Fullerton’s director of budget and finance and student services for university extended education from 2009 until he retired in 2017. He returned to the campus in early 2019 to work as a special consultant.
“I did not have the honor of knowing Steven personally or working with him directly, but over the past few hours, in providing a shoulder to lean on for those who were close to him, it is clear that he was beloved for his commitment to and passion for both Cal State Fullerton and our Titan Family,” Cal State Fullerton President Fram Virjee said in a letter to the campus community.
Paramedics performed lifesaving measures, but Chan died at the scene, police said.
Police believe Chan was targeted but did not expand Monday on the attacker’s motive.
Lt. Jon Radus of the Fullerton Police Department said detectives didn’t know what prompted the attack.
“We don’t believe there is a random stabber on the loose at this particular time,” he said.
Radus said campus police were not aware of any threats toward Chan. Officers increased their patrols around the campus throughout the day. Though the academic year has begun for the campus, classes do not begin until Aug. 24.
The attack happened as campus police were filming active-shooter scenarios in the Pollack Library, a campus Carl’s Jr. and elsewhere to prepare students and staff for emergencies, according to campus spokeswoman Cerise Metzger. The filming was canceled after reports of the attack.
As of Monday night, police still had no updates on the suspect. Radus said he hoped to have more information on the identity of the suspect Tuesday.
At the crime scene, the Infiniti’s car door remained open, and numbered markings had been placed around and on top of the vehicle.
Cal State Fullerton employees peered at the scene as they carried their lunches back to the College Park office from restaurants across the street.
Lydia Jimenez, a medical assistant, arrived at her office building across from the parking lot just as police pulled up.
“You could tell somebody was lying out there,” she said.
Jimenez, 72, told her colleagues to stay indoors.
“I told them, ‘There’s somebody dead out there,’ ” she said.
She didn’t leave her office building for hours, fearing that the assailant could still be nearby.
LaToya Green, a communications lecturer at the university, said panicked students were texting her all morning. Green, 30, works in the College Park office building that towers over the crime scene.
She arrived to work about 10 a.m., after police had already swarmed the area.
“Before the location was determined, some of my students were in a panic,” Green said. “You never think this is going to happen at your campus.”
Junior David Velazquez, 19, was on his way to a nearby grocery store about 11 a.m. when he saw police vehicles.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Velazquez said. “This makes me more alert for what can happen on campus. You’ve seen a lot lately about bad things happening at schools. For something like this to happen, makes me think something worse could happen.”
Times staff writer Jaclyn Cosgrove contributed to this report.