Suspect in UCLA shooting ID'd as grad student

Posted at 7:05 AM, Jun 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-02 15:18:32-04

LOS ANGELES - The man who fatally shot a UCLA engineering professor then killed himself was a Minnesota resident who appears to have also killed a woman in that state whose name was on a "kill list" found in the gunman's residence, authorities said Thursday.

Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck said the list found in Mainak Sarkar's home in St. Paul, Minnesota, included three names: the woman in Minnesota; UCLA professor William Scott Klug, who was killed Wednesday; and another UCLA professor, who was not injured. Beck declined to give the names of the woman or the other professor.

A neighbor in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, identified the dead woman to the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper as Ashley Hasti, who may have been Sarkar's ex-girlfriend. The newspaper published a photo on its website of Hasti and Sarkar together.

Beck said Sarkar, 38, likely killed the woman in Minnesota several days ago, then drove to California in a 2003 gray Nissan Sentra with the Minnesota license plate 720KTW. The car is still being sought in the UCLA area. He said although believe the car does not present any danger, he urged anyone who spots it to call authorities and not approach it.

Beck said Sarkar was heavily armed at UCLA, carrying two semiautomatic pistols -- one that was used in the murder-suicide, and another in his backpack. He was also carrying multiple ammunition magazines and loose rounds of ammunition, indicating he was prepared to carry out more violence.

According to Beck, a note found by the bodies of Sarkar and Klug in a small office in UCLA's Boelter Hall "doesn't refer to suicide," but it included an instruction to check on Sarkar's cat -- leading authorities to his Minnesota residence and the "kill list," ultimately leading to the discovery of the woman's body.

The UCLA campus reopened Thursday, with the university offering counseling to students and faculty distressed by Wednesday's shooting. A vigil is planned at UCLA Thursday night.

Klug, 39, was an El Segundo resident, a father of two and an associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering.

Sarkar, 38, was a former doctoral student of Klug's and a current member of the Klug Research Group; Computational Biomechanics, at UCLA, according to a Klug Research Group publication.

Sarkar had accused the victim of stealing his computer code and giving it to someone else, according to an online blog post he wrote on March 10.

"William Klug, UCLA professor, is not the kind of person when you think of a professor," Sarkar wrote. "He is a very sick person. I urge every new student coming to UCLA to stay away from this guy.

"My name is Mainak Sarkar. I was this guy's PhD student. We had personal differences. He cleverly stole all my code and gave it to another student. He made me really sick.

"Your enemy is your enemy. But your friend can do a lot more harm. Be careful about whom you trust.

"Stay away from this sick guy."

Beck said investigators are aware of Sarkar's online postings, but said that while they expressed distaste for Klug -- and the other professor on the "kill list" -- they did not include any threats that might have triggered a UCLA or police investigation. He noted that Sarkar graduated from UCLA in 2013.

"I will say that in the social media that I have reviewed ... there contained no death threats," Beck said. "There was some harsh language but nothing that would be considered homicidal."

Beck said investigators have spoken to the other professor on the list, and that person was aware of the online postings but did not believe they were an indication of any impending violence.

A source told the Los Angeles Times that the gunman's claims about Klug 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.

The shooting prompted a massive response involving three local police departments, two federal law enforcement agencies and the Los Angeles Fire Department, amid fears that might be an active shooter on the campus. The LAPD 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 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 to 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, since they were unable to lock the doors.

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

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.

"Faculty, staff and students should show up tomorrow and go through their regular routines and complete the quarter as planned," Waugh said Wednesday. "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."

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 was scheduled to be open again from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday.

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. Donations to the Klug family memorial fund can be made at