A planned, third victim was featured in UCLA murder-suicide gunman Mainak Sarkar’s “kill list.” Sarkar, who killed himself after claiming the lives of his estranged wife Ashley Erin Hasti and UCLA professor William Klug, had apparently intended to murder a second professor of the university. The unnamed planned victim was unharmed and was off campus at the time.
Sarkar first killed Hasti at her home in Minnesota before making the 1,913 mile journey to the University of California, Los Angeles, to murder his former engineering professor, Klug. He, however, could not find the third proposed victim, whose life he had planned to take.
The question of a third intended victim of Sarkar’s was addressed by Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck as he spoke at a press conference.
“We believe that Sarkar came to the Los Angeles area very recently, within the last couple of days. He went there to kill two faculty from UCLA. He was only able to find one.”
Born in Durgapur, in the state of West Bengal in Eastern India, Mainak left India in the 2000s. Both his parents had passed away before he left the country of his birth. With degrees from the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur (from where he graduated in 2001) and then Stanford University (2003 to 2005), in aeronautical and aerospace engineering, Sarkar was undoubtedly bright. But while his colleagues and teachers in India remember him as a sharp mind with the usual signs of introversion that is common to scholars, his years at UCLA (the third university he attended) as a PhD student seem to have put to the fore the uncompromising aspect of his nature which might have resulted in his rampage.
By now, Sarkar’s deep anger toward Professor William Klug — one of his two victims — is common knowledge, thanks to snippets of a blog written by the gunman being circulated widely. In a post written in March of this year, Sarkar voiced his displeasure with Klug, his one time mentor who Sarkar believed had stolen “a computer code” from him, and asked future students of his to beware of the alleged theif. The blog, called Long Dark Tunnel, has since been deleted, but its posts point to the troubled path of Sarkar’s thoughts when it came to his professors, including another one of whom he aimed to make his third victim.
Jeff Eldredge, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at UCLA, who had worked with Klug and reviewed Mainak’s thesis, shed light on Sarkar’s “combative” nature when he spoke to the Edmonton Sun.
“He didn’t take criticism well. He’d say, ‘I don’t know how to answer that’ or ‘I don’t know what that means.’ He was just very stubborn.”
Thousands gathered at UCLA’s Bruin Plaza to mourn Klug in a vigil planned by the university’s Undergraduate Students Association Council and the Graduate Student Association. Student body president Danny Siegel addressed the people gathered in mourning, many of whom shared stories about a beloved professor, friend and colleague.
“This is not an event we will quickly get over. It will take time to heal the sadness that has cloaked our campus, but we will heal it together,” said Siegel, as reported by the UCLA Newsroom. “Let there always be light.”
The question as to how Sarkar came to possess two semi-automatic pistols, with which he would go on his killing spree, has sprung a series of debates. The Los Angeles Police Department, meanwhile, called for a discussion on reducing gun violence and its potential victim count, through their official Facebook account.
Sarkar’s first victim, medical student Ashley Hasti, whom he married in June 2011 and was separated from at the time of her murder, was remembered in a Facebook update by her sister, Alex Hasti.
“She could do anything she dreamed of. Her life was cut short much too soon by her estranged husband.”
Both Sarkar and Hasti’s Facebook pages revealed pictures of the two in happy times, just as Sarkar’s dissertation acknowledged the support of Klug in no uncertain terms. While the third victim who was planned to be killed by Sarkar is safe, it is not clear whether he looked for him before killing himself, or whether he was also once friends with the professor, as he had once been with his other two victims.
[Photo by David McNew/Getty Images]