Police Activity vic Engineering Building 4. Avoid area until further notice
“Hmm, we get this type of alert every now and then, probably nothing big.” Returns to reading journal article.
Shooting at Engineering 4. Go to secure location and deny entry (lockdown) now!
“Holy shit!” My officemate looks around her cubicle wall at me and asks what’s up.
“There’s been a shooting on campus. They want us to go on lockdown.” I look out my window and see students nonchalantly walking towards the science quad, towards the direction of the Engineering building.
“Hey!” I yelled out my window. “Hey! Hey you guys!!” I’m on the 2nd floor, and apparently they can’t hear me, or are ignoring me. “They just keep walking the wrong way!” I told my officemate.
We then hear multiple voices in the hallway, and walk over to the door. Undergraduates have gathered outside our office door, since our office is at the end of the hallway that is farthest from the science quad.
“We just came from class!” A young man tells me while cradling his smart phone. “We were heading into class when we suddenly saw tons of people running away, so we left.”
“Where was your class?” I asked him.
“It was chemistry, we were just going to chemistry class.”
His female classmate walks towards the exit door that leads outside. “Does this lead outside? Will this lead us away?”
“Yes,” I told her, “It spirals down a staircase outside.”
“We shouldn’t go out,” the young man said.
“It’s on the opposite side from where it happened…” she replied.
At that point, my supervisor walked up and offered them to wait in our conference room with the door locked. Others in our group had headed down to the basement to hole up. “Okay,” I said to my officemate, “I guess we better go in and close the door.” After going back inside, I walked to the window and looked out. Now I saw students running away from the science quad, but then they stopped and gathered below my window.
“Hey!” I heard a female voice yell from an adjacent window. “Hey! There’s still an active shooter! You should be inside, with the doors closed! Don’t stand around there!” Thankfully her voice must have carried better than mine, because they heard her and immediately walked towards the building’s entrance.
The first thing I did once we were inside our office with the doors closed was to put up a Facebook status to warn anyone who may not get BruinAlerts, and to tell my family and friends that I was safe. I next texted my friends who work on campus. I was especially concerned about one who works in the Engineering Department, whose reply felt like it took forever. Thankfully she was safe and was with the police. It was the first I heard confirmation of people being shot…wounded or killed I didn’t know.
It was almost 25 minutes after the initial alert that I heard helicopters outside and police sirens. I glanced out towards the road, and saw someone peaking out of the blinds that were shading the adjacent window. I kept seeing people slowly walking around outside, too far to hear me, probably unaware of the situation (perhaps they didn’t receive BruinAlerts).
I also started receiving texts from friends outside of UCLA who had heard the news that something was going on. It was nice to hear from them, and to know I was being thought of.
I wasn’t actually scared or concerned for my own life…As I mentioned, although my building is also in the science quad, it is across the quad from Engineering and my office sits on the opposite end from the quad. I was feeling more concern for the people I saw walking outside. I also feel a little ashamed to admit that my response was not fear, but an excitement similar to the emotion I felt when the tornado sirens went off back home in Wisconsin. I don’t know why that was my response, instead of fear or sadness for affected population.
I wasn’t really able to focus on my work, although one of my other officemates seemed to have no problem. My coffee hit my bladder hard, though, and my female officemate and I decided to break the lockdown protocol to use the restroom. After that, I continued monitoring news outlets, Twitter, and Facebook to get updates and to see what was going on, searching for “UCLA shooting”. A Google search I never wanted to type. Rumors were being spread that there were up to four shooters, that they were across campus in Bunche Hall (this was an error on the student, it was actually Boelter Hall, which is the Engineering Building). Reports said it was a 6ft white male wearing all black, and that the shooter was at large.
I watched students being herded out of the Math-Science building (connected to Engineering) with their hands above their head. They then had to kneel and allow the SWAT team to pat them down to make sure they weren’t shooters in disguise. They were then allowed to evacuate the area.
Just after noon, I heard the police statement on the Channel 5 Live feed that a homicide and suicide occurred between two males. He said that it appears entirely contained, and that they believed no suspects were outstanding, nor was there continuing threat. They were, however, in the process of releasing students from lockdown, and that it needs to be done in an orderly fashion to ensure no more participants involved.
A bit after that, we got the all-clear via BruinAlert, and our supervisor came knocking on our door to see if we were all okay. What do you say? We made small chat about how we were fortunate that it wasn’t a mass shooting, like at so many other campuses previously…but it always sounds a little hollow to say you feel “fortunate” when even one life is lost.
I saw students milling about again outside my window, and after a bit decided to venture outside to see what was to be seen. Police were gone, but tons of news vans and helicopters still swarmed the scene. I wasn’t the only one annoyed that they seemed to ask leading questions along the lines of, “You were pretty scared, weren’t you, I can see you shaking,” seemingly trying to blow up the story as much as possible for the shock factor.
I came back to my office for lunch…continued to monitor the news, answer texts and emails and Facebook posts…I tried to work, and it’s so weird…Even though I was never scared, I just have a hard time concentrating…I keep wanting to check for updates in case they released more information.
I just recently (while writing this) heard that the victim was a Mechanical Engineering professor, William Klug. The shooter’s identity and motive have not yet been officially released, although rumor has it that the shooter was a graduate student who was denied his dissertation. While this is all still speculation, it does make me ponder once again the mental hurdles that are not just present, but expected, in graduate school. (Paying Graduate School’s Mental Toll, There’s an Awful Cost to Grad School that No One Talks About, Mental Health Issues Among Graduate Students, Graduate School and Mental Illness: Is There a Link? just to name a few articles on the topic.) I actually saw a CAPS therapist during the last few months of my graduate career, and I know others who have sought help as well. Not to mention the physical ailments like my dislocated rib caused from the stress tension in my back. This is NOT a statement to excuse the shooter in any way…It just made me think about what could make him go over the edge like that. Could this happen again? Is there a systematic issue that we can address somehow? And no, it’s not because it’s a male white shooter that I mention mental illness…It’s because he’s supposedly a graduate student, and from my own experiences I’m making extrapolations and pondering the issue (regardless of race or gender).
Anyways, I wrote this because I couldn’t concentrate, and I felt like writing about the experience might help. It feels so much sadder and more real now, to know the name and see the face of the victim, Dr. William Klug. It just sucks that a life was so suddenly put out…two lives destroyed, and many family and friends left in the wake.
For official news coverage, see this LA Times article.
Edit: Since posting, the shooter was confirmed to be a previous Ph.D. student who, coincidentally, walked the same year as me (2014). Mainak Sarkar had moved to Minnesota, and for whatever reason became disgruntled enough to take out his rage on his ex-girlfriend, then drove to L.A. with the intention of killing two UCLA professors. There is no need for me to report on the details here, so I leave this Updated LA Times article for anyone interested or who may come across this blog in the future.