LOS ANGELES, USA – Two men died Wednesday, June 1, in a murder-suicide at the University of California’s Los Angeles campus, prompting a lockdown and a massive security deployment at the sprawling facility.
Los Angeles police chief Charlie Beck said both victims were found with gunshot wounds in an office on campus. At least 3 shots were fired and a gun was found at the scene.
“At about 10:00 this morning a homicide and a suicide occurred in the engineering facility… of the UCLA campus on the south side,” Beck told reporters. “It appears it is entirely contained.”
Officials said they were still piecing together what prompted the deadly incident.
“There is evidence there could be a suicide note but we don’t know at this point,” Beck added. “Tragically so many of these active shooter situations end like this.”
A local city councilman told reporters that one of the victims was reportedly a professor at the university but campus officials refused to confirm the information.
The shooting prompted a campus-wide lockdown as hundreds of officers and tactical response teams as well as federal agents rushed to the university, where students are preparing for final exams.
All university classes were cancelled for the day. The lockdown was lifted shortly after noon.
“We are in the process of releasing the campus back to the students,” Beck said. “They are in their finals. This is a very stressful time for them, and we’re trying to alleviate that.”
Scott Waugh, the university’s vice chancellor and provost, said classes would resume as normal on Thursday, June 2, and next week’s final exams would not be disrupted.
“We want to resume normal operations as quickly as possible,” he said. “Faculty, staff and students should show up tomorrow and go through their regular routines and complete the quarter as planned.”
“The 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.”
Some 43,000 students are enrolled at the massive UCLA campus, according to its website.
Students and staff on campus were urged to take cover when the shooting was first reported as officers went from building to building searching for a possible active shooter and other victims.
Many students and staff could be seen walking out of buildings with their arms raised. Others knelt down on sidewalks as officers patted them down for possible weapons.
Students said they received alerts on their phones from the university notifying them of the shooting and advising them to take shelter.
Several visibly shaken students told local media of hiding in bathrooms or classrooms as the situation unfolded.
A nearby elementary school and a middle school were also put on lockdown.
Authorities placed the city of Los Angeles on tactical alert which meant that police throughout the area could be mobilized.
The White House said President Barack Obama had been notified of the California shooting and had asked his team to keep him updated on the situation.
The killings forced Brazil’s soccer team, which had planned to train at the university Wednesday afternoon ahead of the Copa America tournament, to find an alternate facility.
“In view of what happened on the UCLA campus, the team will not train at the university,” the Brazilian Football Confederation said in statement, adding that the training would take place at another sports complex in the city.
News reports of gun violence are part of daily life in the United States where readily-available firearms claim around 30,000 lives each year.
Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton has called for “comprehensive gun safety reform,” although Obama’s efforts in that direction have been hobbled by America’s powerful gun lobby.
The National Rifle Association has endorsed the presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, who boasts that he is a “long-term” NRA member and one of 13 million Americans with permits to carry firearms. – Jocelyne Zablit, AFP / Rappler.com