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Details began emerging Friday about UCLA shooter Mainak Sarkar’s life in India.
Sarkar, 38, grew up in Durgapur, now a city of half a million people, according to his high school teachers. His parents are dead, and a sister is believed to live in Kolkata.
In Durgapur, he attended St. Michael’s, an English-language school, where a teacher described him as “a very brilliant student” who was among the best in his class in the mid-1990s.
At the same time, Sarkar was reserved and “not the type who would go around and make friends very quickly,” biology teacher Lily Chowdhury told the Indo-Asian News Service. She called the news of the UCLA shooting “very shocking.”
At St. Michael’s, Sarkar cultivated a close relationship with Goutam Viswas, his mathematics and chemistry teacher. He often studied after school hours with Viswas, who described him as “very nice” and “a very normal chap.”
“He was not the most outgoing, but he had his friends,” Viswas said by phone from Durgapur.
“We are shocked at this news. It’s very difficult to match this incident with his behavior as a student.”
After a year or two at Indian Institutes of Technology at Kharagpur in eastern India, Sarkar returned to St. Michael’s to meet Viswas. Over the years, IIT has built a storied reputation, with its graduates becoming top executives at major corporations.
Sarkar was deeply focused on academics, the teacher recalled, and saw many IIT graduates go on to conduct post-graduate research in the United States.
That’s what Sarkar wanted more than anything, Viswas recalled.
“He wanted career advice,” Viswas said. “And I told him, ‘Keep a cool head and carry on; you have potential.’ And I also told him to keep good relations with all his faculty members. He agreed with that.”
In 2000, Sarkar earned an undergraduate degree in aerospace engineering at IIT, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Manas Kumar Laha, an aerospace engineering professor, said that while Sarkar’s name sounded familiar, he could not recall details of his time in the program.
“I don’t think he stood out in any way,” Laha said in an interview.
Todd Sorenson stood in the lobby of his small apartment complex in a quiet residential neighborhood here late Thursday night, his eyes bleary from a lack of sleep.
The roofer, who lived one floor below UCLA shooter Mainak Sarkar, said news of the attack has left many in an otherwise peaceful community confused.
“It scared the crap out of me,” Sorenson said as his TV blared from his second-floor studio overhead. A row of mailboxes stood behind him. “Sarkar #8,” read one.
Sorenson, 49, said he didn’t speak with Sarkar much -- their only encounters were less than friendly. Sarkar would tell him not to smoke cigarettes out of the window below his, Sorenson said. The last time they spoke was a year ago, he added, when he slammed the door in Sarkar’s face.
Since the police showed up Wednesday night to investigate the case, Sorenson said, some of the neighbors have expressed shock.
“Oh my God, do I have to move?” Sorenson recalled one of his neighbors asking.
“It was scary for a lot of people, that someone like that would kill people,” he said. “We’re regular folk around here. You don’t expect it."
Sorenson said the police didn’t leave until early Thursday morning. Officers took a couple of packages from the apartment and blew them up in containers outside to make sure they weren’t dangerous, he said.
Although police said the residents weren’t in danger, Sorenson said he was still shaken up by the news.
“That freaks me out. That really freaks me out,” he said. “It’s a good neighborhood with good people."
Hundreds of students and faculty gathered at UCLA on Thursday night for a vigil mourning the professor who was killed on the Westwood campus by his former student.
The #BruinStrong candlelight vigil was held at Bruin Plaza and coincided with the commemoration of National Gun Violence Awareness Day.
Many held blue and yellow battery-powered candles as they paid tribute to William Klug, the 39-year-old mechanical and aerospace engineering professor who was gunned down in the university’s engineering building.
Former students and colleagues have expressed sadness and shock over Klug’s death.
“He’s a very good friend, a mentor, professor and teacher,” said Peng Lyu, a doctoral student in mechanical engineering who studied under Klug for two semesters. "I just cannot believe that that happened to him.”
Another vigil is scheduled for 4 p.m. Friday in the Court of Sciences on campus. That event, which is open to the public, is being organized by the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science.
—Matt Hamilton and Brittny Mejia
The widow of slain UCLA professor William Klug issued a statement on Thursday, asking the public and the media to respect her family’s privacy as they grieve:
“During this extremely difficult time for our family, we are grateful for the tremendous outpouring of support. This is an indescribable loss,” Mary Elise Klug said in her statement, which was distributed by the university.
“Bill was so much more than my soul mate. I will miss him every day for the rest of my life. Knowing that so many others share our family’s sorrow has provided a measure of comfort.
“That said, we are a very private family, and we need time to heal and recover from this senseless tragedy,” she said.
William “Bill” Klug, a UCLA professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, was insatiably curious about the way complex things worked – cancer cells, the HIV virus, the tissue in a beating heart.
Klug was said to be brilliant. He was said to be kind.
“If you asked who is the nicest professor at UCLA, many would say William Klug,” said Alan Garfinkel, a professor of integrative biology and physiology.
On Thursday, Klug was said to be greatly missed.
—Teresa Watanabe, Hailey Branson-Potts and Brittny Mejia
Two vigils will be held on the UCLA campus this week as the community gathers after Wednesday’s murder-suicide.
A #BruinStrong candlelight vigil has been planned for 8:30 p.m. on Thursday at Bruin Plaza. Student organizers are urging people to show their solidarity on National Gun Violence Awareness Day.
“I call upon the Bruin family and community members across the state and nation to come together during this difficult time,” said Danny Siegel, president of the Undergraduate Students Assn. Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz and interfaith leaders are expected to attend.
Another vigil -- at 4 p.m. Friday, in the Court of Sciences -- is being organized by the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science. All are welcome, organizers said.
Early Thursday, led by a "kill list” written by UCLA shooter Mainak Sarkar, police in Brooklyn Park, Minn., entered a gray split-level home at 2457 Pearson Parkway.
Inside the home, shortly after midnight, they found a woman’s body. She had been shot to death.
Authorities declined to identify the woman.
But public records listed the resident of the home as Ashley Hasti.
According to Hennepin County Vital Records, Hasti married Sarkar on June 14, 2011.
It was unclear whether they were still married at the time of the shooting.
Deborah Gutierrez, who works as a transcriber at UCLA Medical Center, bought flowers for her desk at a farmers market on Thursday.
Then she decided to drop them off in front of the Engineering IV building.
She placed the flowers on some bushes, near a pink bouquet with a card that read, “Prof Klug, Smart and kind. We miss you.”
“It’s so emotional,” Gutierrez said, close to tears. “This hit so close to home.
The note police found from Mainak Sarkar at the scene of the UCLA murder-suicide said “check on my cat” and gave the shooter’s Minnesota address.
“Immediately, we were highly suspicious,” said LAPD Chief Charlie Beck. “That made me uneasy about what we would find when we got to Minnesota.”
The LAPD worked with the FBI and Minnesota authorities and served a search warrant at Mainak Sarkar’s home. Inside, they found three names on a “kill list,” the chief said.
A cat. apparently named Kitty, also was found in the house.
Mainak Sarkar, who has been identified as the UCLA shooter, attended Stanford from fall 2003 until spring 2005, said university spokeswoman Lisa Lapin.
He received a master’s degree in aeronautical and astronautical engineering, Lapin said.
“According to the people here who looked at his record, it was an uneventful time here,” Lapin said.
He completed the standard two-year curriculum for the degree, she said.
Hongjie Zhang, a UCLA postdoctoral student, took a moment to talk about his former professor as he walked into the engineering building on Thursday.
“He’s a great man. Smart,” said Zhang, who took a class with Klug in 2008 or 2009. "I think he was really nice.”
Zhang said Klug would always help students when they needed it.
Jizhai Cui, who said Klug was at one point on his PhD committee, was "a very famous professor in our department.”
Cui never took one of his classes but said his friends described them as the best they had taken.
“He’s very scientific, he cares about the student,” he said. “His graduate class is very hard, but a hard class always teaches you a lot. That’s why students always benefit a lot from his classes.”
A civil engineering junior who asked that his name not be used said he took a math lab coding class with Klug last year. Klug made the class fun, cracking jokes, he said.
“Every time I went to his office hours, there’s no way he would let me leave his office hours without him fixing my code. Even if it was past his office hours,” he said. “Great person, great professor.”
Actress Debra Messing apologized Wednesday for tweeting a selfie in a t-shirt that said "under the gun” as she was watching events unfold at UCLA.
The “Will & Grace” actress immediately drew criticism on Twitter for her timing.
Mainak Sarkar, 38, a former doctoral student and Minnesota resident, shot UCLA professor William Klug multiple times in a small office in UCLA Engineering Building 4 before taking his own life, authorities said. The shooting triggered a lockdown at the UCLA campus and thousands of students raced to barricade themselves in classrooms.
Messing deleted the tweet and later issued a statement, explaining that she was asked to wear the orange shirt and post a selfie to bring awareness to gun violence.
“Today we were asked to have our Voices heard,” she tweeted. "The horrendous Irony is the timing of yet another shooting. This has NOTHING to do with me.”
Messing went on to say the following:
Across from a busy on-ramp to the 405 Freeway is a cream-and-aqua two-story apartment complex where the shooter in Wednesday’s murder-suicide once lived.
The building is one of several that sit along Beloit Avenue, a little more than two miles from UCLA in the Sawtelle neighborhood.
Public records indicate the gunman, Mainak Sarkar, lived at the complex in 2010.
On Thursday, at least two residents there recalled seeing Sarkar and said he kept to himself. They said they believe that Sakar lived at the apartment complex for about four to five months before leaving.
“He was quiet,” said Lucia Esquivel. “He didn’t say much.”
Eugenio Martinez, 30, said he would sometimes see Sarkar watching other residents and assumed he just enjoyed people- watching.
“I just remember he was very observant of everyone. He never spoke, at least not to me,” Martinez said. “He seemed normal and tranquil.”
Detectives believe the gunman who killed a UCLA professor before committing suicide Wednesday intended to kill another professor while on campus, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said Thursday.
Beck said the gunman – identified as Mainak Sarkar, 38 – was “heavily armed” with two semiautomatic pistols and extra ammunition when he went to Professor William Klug’s office Wednesday morning and killed Klug before turning the gun on himself. A note from Sarkar included language about a second professor, Beck said.
“We believe…that he went to kill two faculty from UCLA,” Beck said. “He was only able to locate one.”
“He was certainly prepared to engage multiple victims,” the chief added.
Inside the Engineering 4 building Thursday it was quiet, but outside, dozens of students hurried by with backpacks and coffee.
One of them, Peng Lyu, came to UCLA from China in 2012 and is in his fourth year studying for a PhD in mechanical engineering.
Lyu took two classes with William S. Klug, an associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering who was killed in Wednesday’s murder-suicide. When Lyu first arrived at UCLA, Klug was Lyu’s academic advisor.
Lyu said Klug helped him by sharing cultural information in order to better adjust to life in the U.S.
Klug would ask Lyu about how his first few months were going, if he liked the campus, if he liked the classes and if he felt comfortable.
“He’s a very good friend, a mentor, professor and teacher,” Lyu said of Klug. “I just cannot believe that that happened to him.
“He helped me a lot.”
Los Angeles police detectives have begun retracing the steps of apparent UCLA shooter Mainak Sarkar, particulary his drive from his home in Minnesota to Southern California.
Sarkar, 38, drove from Minnesota to Los Angeles, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck told the Los Angeles Times. It was unclear how long he was in L.A. before Wednesday’s shooting, the chief said, though detectives don’t believe it was “more than a couple of days.”
Police are still looking for his car, described as a 2003 gray Nissan Sentra with the Minnesota license plate 720 KTW.
Detectives were also trying to contact “other people in his life out of an abundance of caution” to make sure there were no additional victims, Beck said.
“We don’t have anything that would lead us directly to another victim,” the chief said. “But obviously this guy was homicidal.”
On Wednesday, Sarkar carried a backpack, two semiautomatic pistols and extra magazines to William Klug’s fourth-floor office, where he fatally shot the professor before turning the gun on himself, the chief said.
Klug, 39, was an associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering.
Klug, a second UCLA professor and a woman were on a “kill list” found in Sarkar’s home in Minnesota. Authorities went to the woman’s home in Minnesota, where they found her dead from a gunshot wound.
The chief said it was not immediately clear if Sarkar looked for the other professor named on the so-called “kill list” before finding Klug. The second professor, whom Beck did not name, wasn’t on campus at the time of the shooting. Police have since contacted that person, the chief said, and the professor “is fine.”
Responding to a request for a welfare check from police officers 1,500 miles away, police in Minnesota on Thursday found the body of a woman inside a home that could be connected to UCLA gunman Mainak Sarkar, officials said.
Officers went to the home and found the body after midnight, Brooklyn Park Deputy Police Chief Mark Bruley said at a news conference.
“We have multiple detectives working on this case,” Bruley said. “We’re working with LAPD to coordinate our efforts.”
In a discussion with reporters Thursday morning, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck revealed that the gunman in Wednesday’s murder-suicide at UCLA had made a “kill list” with three names on it, one of which was connected to the Brooklyn Park address.
Bruley declined to identify the woman or say how she was connected to Sarkar. He did say she was apparently killed before Wednesday’s shooting in Southern California and that there had not been any recent calls for service.
“As information is unfolded over the next couple of days, we’ll work hard to get that out to you without jeopardizing the investigation,” Bruley said.
—Joseph Serna and Richard Winton
UCLA gunman Mainak Sarkar left a note at scene, asking someone to “check on my cat,” LAPD police chief says.
When detectives arrived at William Klug’s office at the UCLA campus Wednesday, they found a note from Sarkar, 38, listing his home address in Minnesota and a request to check on his cat’s welfare, Police Chief Charlie Beck told the Los Angeles Times.
“Immediately, we were highly suspicious,” Beck said. “That made me uneasy about what we would find when we got to Minnesota.”
Sarkar took his own life Wednesday morning after killing William Klug, 39, in a small office in UCLA Engineering Building 4, according to authorities.
Klug, who was shot multiple times, was an associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering.
Klug, another UCLA professor and a woman who lived in a nearby Minnesota town were named in a “kill list” found in Sakar’s home.
The LAPD worked with the FBI and Minnesota authorities and served a search warrant at Sarkar’s home. Inside, Beck said, they found the list, extra ammunition and a box for one of the two pistols found at the UCLA scene.
Authorities went to the woman’s home, Beck said, and found her body inside. It appeared she had been dead from a gunshot wound for “maybe a couple of days,” the chief said.
Beck declined to name the woman, but said Sarkar was the suspect in her slaying.
“We would physically arrest him were he still alive,” the chief said.