Tuesday 6 December 2016

Murder-suicide leaves two dead on UCLA campus

Rachael Alexander

Published 02/06/2016 | 02:30

LAPD was placed on citywide tactical alert and sent hundreds of officers to the Westwood campus and surrounding neighbourhoods at around 10.30am
LAPD was placed on citywide tactical alert and sent hundreds of officers to the Westwood campus and surrounding neighbourhoods at around 10.30am

A murder-suicide at a UCLA engineering building yesterday drew hundreds of heavily armed officers who swarmed the sprawling Los Angeles campus, where students close to summer break barricaded themselves in classrooms as best they could before being evacuated with their hands up.

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About two hours after the first 911 call came in around 10 am, with the center of campus still saturated with officers, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck declared the threat over. Two men were dead in an office, and authorities found a gun and what might be a suicide note, he said.

Authorities did not identify the men, and a motive was not immediately clear.

The response to the shooting was overwhelming: Teams of officers in helmets and bulletproof vests who were looking for victims and suspects ran across the normally tranquil campus tucked in the city's bustling west side. Some with high-powered rifles yelled for bystanders to evacuate. Groups of officers stormed into buildings that had been locked down and cleared hallways as police helicopters hovered overhead.

Advised by university text alerts to turn out the lights and lock the doors where they were, many students let friends and family know they were safe in social media posts. Some described frantic evacuation scenes, while others wrote that their doors weren't locking and posted photos of photocopiers and foosball tables they used as barricades.

It was the week before final exams at University of California, Los Angeles, whose 43,000 students make it the largest campus in the University of California system.

Those locked down inside classrooms described a nervous calm. Some said they had to rig the doors closed with whatever was at hand because they would not lock.

Umar Rehman (21) was in a maths sciences hall adjacent to the building where the shooting took place, called Engineering IV. The buildings are connected by walkway bridges near the center of the 419-acre campus.

"We kept our eye on the door. We knew that somebody eventually could come to the door," he said, acknowledging the terror he felt.

Irish Independent

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