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UCLA Shooter Accused Victim Of Stealing His Computer Code

Police respond to a campus shooting at UCLA. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
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The man who fatally shot a UCLA professor in his office before turning the gun on himself Wednesday has been identified as Mainak Sarkar. He was a former doctoral student who had once called his victim William Klug a "mentor" but in recent months he had written angry screeds accusing him of stealing his computer code.Police have identified Sarkar as the gunman in yesterday's murder-suicide that locked down the UCLA campus, according to the Los Angeles Times. CBS News reports that he used a 9mm semi-automatic pistol, which was found at the scene along with a note. Sarkar had no apparent criminal history.

Though yesterday law enforcement said that the gunman had targeted the 39-year-old Klug over grades, a different story emerges based on Sarkar's academic and career timeline as well as his postings on social media, as surveyed by the Los Angeles Times.

Sarkar submitted his doctoral dissertation in 2013, and in the 2014 doctoral commencement booklet, Klug, a mechanical engineering professor, is listed as his advisor. In his acknowledgements, he wrote to Klug, "Thank you for being my mentor."

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A source told the Times that Klug bent over backwards to help Sarkar on his dissertation and to graduate, even though Sarkar's work wasn't always high-quality. This source is appalled that Sarkar would later accuse Klug of stealing his code to give to another student: "The idea that somebody took his ideas is absolutely psychotic."

On March 10, Sarkar wrote on a blog now archived:

William Klug, UCLA professor is not the kind of person when you think of a professor. He is a very sick person. I urge every new student coming to UCLA to stay away from this guy. [...] My name is Mainak Sarkar. I was this guy’s PhD student. We had personal differences. He cleverly stole all my code and gave it another student. He made me really sick. Your enemy is your enemy. But your friend can do a lot more harm. Be careful about whom you trust. Stay away from this sick guy.

His LinkedIn page said Sarkar had previously earned a master’s degree at Stanford University and an undergraduate degree in aerospace engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur. Until August of last year, he had worked as an engineering analyst for a rubber company called Endurica LLC.

There's been an outpouring of support for Klug, an El Segundo resident who is remembered fondly as a husband, father of two, a Little League coach, a surfer, a devout Christian, a brilliant academic and a "gentle soul." He was remembered as a kind and patient professor, which makes the fact he was targeted by an angry student especially baffling.

Renjie Li, a 21-year-old mechanical engineering junior at UCLA, told ABC that Klug was one of his favorite professors. Just last month, Klug offered to write him a letter of recommendation to grad school. He said, "When I took his class last year, I always went to his office hours and asked a bunch of questions, and he always answered with passion. He's very approachable."

Klug's area of a study in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering was biomechanics. He was also in charge of a research group that focused on the "problems at the interface of mechanics and biology."

Peter Gianusso, president of the El Segundo Little League, said he was a devoted father who coached his 10-year-old son's team.

"Today there's a hole in the heart of El Segundo Little League," Gianusso told ABC. "They really can't believe it because Bill was one of the kindest, most light-hearted, quiet person that you'd ever meet. Just a great nice guy all around and to meet his death in such a tragic and horrific manner, is just shocking and unbelievable."

Classes on campus will resume today except for the engineering department, which will resume next week, according to the Associated Press. UCLA’s Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Scott Waugh told the Daily News that the campus was in mourning and engineering students were planning a vigil.

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