UCLA gunman did not impress in class: Indian-origin professor
Los Angles June 6 An Indian-American professor has said Mainak Sarkar, who was behind the UCLA murder-suicide, left little impression as a student in his class and never used to greet him when they passed each other despite both hailing from West Bengal and speaking the same language, Bengali.
Professor Ajit Mal was in his University of California, Los Angeles, office getting ready to teach his engineering class when IIT-Kharagpur alumni Mainak Sarkar shot and killed 39-year-old professor William Klug, who he had accused of stealing his computer code and giving it to someone else.
Mal praised another UCLA professor Christopher Lynch for his quick action that kept the 38-year-old UCLA gunman from escaping and potentially shooting more people.
Both Mal and Lynch were quoted by the Los Angeles Times as saying that Sarkar’s allegation that Klug had stolen his computer code was groundless.
Lynch said all UCLA employees and graduate students sign over any intellectual property developed there to the university and, if it is subsequently licensed, enter royalty agreements to share in the profits.
Both men said that Sarkar had enrolled in their classes several years earlier but left little impression.
Mal said Sarkar was quiet and reserved and would not even greet him when the two men passed each other, which the professor found somewhat odd since both hail from West Bengal and speak the same language.
He also said it was likely that Klug never knew of Sarkar’s animosity toward him.
If he had, Mal said, Klug would probably have consulted him for his Indian cultural insights and years of experience. The two men were close as Mal had headed the search committee that hired Klug in 2003.
“This whole thing is so incredible and bizarre because Bill is the least likely to have some conflict with students. He was so very caring,” Mal said.
Recounting the horrific incident, Mal said after hearing odd sounds, he came out of his fourth-floor office in the Engineering 4 building as did Lynch.
At that time, neither Mal nor Lynch, both professors of mechanical and aerospace engineering, knew what had happened.
However, Lynch did know that Klug would never take his own life. He figured a shooter was inside. And he knew that more than a dozen faculty and staff members were on the floor at the time.
So he went to Klug’s office and held the door shut. “If he had stepped out. We’d all be in trouble,” Lynch said of the shooter.
After that, Lynch heard a third shot inside and then silence. Lynch assumed the shooter had killed himself. Within minutes, the professors said, police converged and cleared out the floor. Lynch gave the door key to police without looking inside and left.
Besides holding the door shut, Mal said, Lynch also shouted at him and other colleagues to return to their offices and close their doors, thereby saving lives.