A UCLA professor and another man — possibly a graduate student — were killed in a murder-suicide inside an engineering building Wednesday, prompting fears of a possible active shooter on the campus and leading to an intensive sweep of the university before the campus was declared safe.
Thousands of students, faculty and staff responded to a “shelter in place” order, many hiding beneath desks or staying behind closed doors and not venturing outside until authorities confirmed only the killer and his victim were involved and no suspect was at large.
The shooting was reported shortly before 10 a.m. in Boelter Hall, which is part of the Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, according to the university. The entire campus was placed on lockdown and the Los Angeles Police Department went on a citywide tactical alert as officers swarmed the engineering building and campus.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said 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.”
Authorities declined to identify the victims, but students, many of whom took to social media to offer condolences, identified one of the victims as William Scott Klug, a UCLA professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering. According to his 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.
The gunman was believed to be a graduate student.
The Daily Breeze reported that Klug’s family was gathering at his El Segundo home, but declined to comment. A friend of Klug told ABC7 that he had two children — a 10-year-old son and a younger daughter — and he was a coach for his son’s baseball team.
“Shocking, to say the least,” Lance Giroux told the station. “I think pretty much everybody says that, but for a guy like Bill, it’s even more shocking just based on his personality and the kind of guy he was. To have something like this happen is just unfathomable.”
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.”
Scott Waugh, UCLA vice chancellor and provost, told reporters officials will be reviewing the security response to the on-campus shooting. Asked about some students complaining they were unable to lock classroom doors against possible intruders as they his in those rooms, Waugh said that too will be reviewed.
He said officials will try to determine why the gunman killed the professor and then took his own life, but it was too early to speculate about causes.
All classes were canceled for the day at the university, along with evening activities, but Waugh said campus operations will return to normal Thursday — 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. “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.”
...President Barack Obama was briefed aboard Air Force One about the UCLA shooting, according to the White House.
Fairburn and Warner elementary schools and Emerson Middle School, all of which are located near UCLA, were placed on lockdown during the investigation, according to the Los Angeles Unified School District. Those schools returned to normal operations shortly after noon.
UCLA officials said the university is offering counseling services to students and staff affected by the shooting. According to UCLA, the university has designated “healing spaces” on the campus where students can gather, and counselors will also be available for students at the Counseling and Psychological Services office. The Staff and Faculty Counseling Center at 10920 Wilshire Blvd. will remain open until 10 p.m. and be open again from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday.