Gunman blamed professor for stealing his work before UCLA shooting

LOS ANGELES (KUSI) — Details continue to emerge about the relationship between a University of California Los Angeles professor and the graduate student who shot him on campus Wednesday before turning the gun on himself.

Students and colleagues identified the man shot to death at the School of Engineering as 39-year-old William Scott Klug from El Segundo, a father of two and associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering.

The gunman — identified as Mainak Sarkar by Los Angeles police — had been negatively targeting Klug on social media for months, accusing him of stealing his computer code and giving it to someone else.

On March 10, Sarkar called Klug a “very sick person” who should not be trusted. He also urged new students to stay away from him.

A source told The Times that the gunman’s claims were "absolutely untrue.”

“The idea that somebody took his ideas is absolutely psychotic,” the source said, adding that Klug bent over backwards to help Sarkar finish his dissertation and graduate even though the quality of his work was not stellar.

Sarkar was a former Ph.D student and a current member of the Klug Research Group; Computational Biomechanics, at UCLA, according to a Klug Research Group publication.

 A source told The Times that the gunman’s claims were “absolutely untrue.”

“The idea that somebody took his ideas is absolutely psychotic,” the source said, adding that Klug bent over backwards to help Sarkar finish his dissertation and graduate even though the quality of his work was not stellar.

“Bill was a super nice guy,” the source said. “He didn’t want to hurt the guy.”

In his doctoral dissertation, submitted in 2013, Sarkar expressed gratitude to Klug for his help and support, The Times reported.

The shooting, which, for a time, triggered fears that at least one gunman was on a rampage, was reported shortly before 10 a.m. Wednesday in Boelter Hall, part of the Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the entire campus was placed on lockdown, along with three Los Angeles Unified School District schools nearby.

Related Link: UCLA murder-suicide victim, gunman identified

The incident prompted a massive response involving three local police departments, two federal law enforcement agencies and the Los Angeles Fire Department. One of the responders — the Los Angeles Police Department — deployed some of its specialized units, including the SWAT team and the bomb squad, and the murder-suicide probe is now in the hands of Robbery Homicide.

The LAPD went on tactical alert, meaning officers were kept on past the end of their shifts, as an intensive law enforcement sweep was carried out amid fears of an active shooter on the Westside campus

The initial reports of a shooting prompted the university to send a “Bruin Alert” to all students and staff notifying them to avoid the School of Engineering area or shelter in place. Some students reported via social media hunkering down in restrooms or classrooms, using anything they could — belts, furniture — to prevent entry from the outside.

Even after the campus was deemed secure, all classes were canceled for the day, along with evening activities, but Scott Waugh, UCLA vice chancellor and provost, said campus operations would return to normal today — except for engineering classes, which will be canceled for the rest of the week. Waugh said this weekend’s and next week’s final exams would not be disrupted.

“We want to resume normal operations as quickly as possible so we will resume scheduled classes tomorrow morning,” Waugh said Wednesday.

“Faculty, staff and students should show up tomorrow and go through their regular routines and complete the quarter as planned. We will go ahead with commencement and final examinations over the next few weeks and hope to return our campus to normal and return the Bruin community to its normal operations.

“This is a tragic event but it does show that with adequate preparation and good cooperation with all our law enforcement agencies, we can bring it to a successful close.”

UCLA officials said the university is offering counseling services to students and staff affected by the shooting. The university has designated “healing spaces” on the campus where students can gather, and counselors will be available for students at the Counseling and Psychological Services office.

The Staff and Faculty Counseling Center at 10920 Wilshire Blvd. remained open until 10 p.m. Wednesday and will be open again from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. today and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, in summing up what had happened, said late Wednesday morning that two men were found dead inside a small office in the building, and a gun was found nearby.

"A homicide and a suicide occurred in the engineering part of the UCLA campus on the south side,” Beck said. “It appears it is entirely contained. We believe there are no suspects outstanding, and no continuing threat to UCLA’s campus.”

Beck said at least three shots were fired. He confirmed evidence was found at the scene “that could be a suicide note, but we do not know that at this point.”

Once the killings were determined to be a murder-suicide, police continued to thoroughly sweep through the building and several adjacent buildings “out of an abundance of caution,” as Beck put it.

As police began clearing classrooms, students were seen walking from buildings, often with their hands raised and some being subjected to pat downs as they left.

Along with the LAPD and UCLA campus police, the FBI and federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives both dispatched agents to the

Also responding to the scene were police from Santa Monica College, where a shooting spree occurred June 7, 2013, ending when officers killed the gunman in the campus library. Five other people died in that shooting.

Fairburn and Warner elementary schools and Emerson Middle School, all of which are located near UCLA, were placed on lockdown during the investigation, the LAUSD reported. They resumed normal  operations shortly after noon.

President Barack Obama was briefed aboard Air Force One about the UCLA shooting, according to the White House.

According to Klug’s online biography, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Westmont College in 1998, a master’s at UCLA in 1999 and a doctorate from Caltech in 2003.

An account benefiting the Klug family has been established on the website, with more than $5,000 raised in the first two hours.

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