Could it be a love triangle that triggered this outraged student or was he just deranged? Apparently he had a long kill list.
The UCLA gunman’s wife was found dead in her Minnesota home hours after her husband fatally shot his former professor in Los Angeles and then killed himself.
Ashley Hasti, 31, died of a gunshot wound to the head, almost certainly at the hands of Mainak Sarkar, who listed her on his ‘kill list’.
St Paul-based PhD graduate Sarkar had been planning to execute more victims after killing professor William Klug in the UCLA engineering building on Wednesday – but killed himself instead, the LAPD revealed on Thursday.
UCLA graduate Sarkar, 38, who was born in India before coming to the US to study, is suspected of shooting Hasti in her home near Minneapolis several days ago before driving to southern California.
Police say they found a ‘kill list’ at Sarkar’s home, also near Minneapolis, which included the names of his former PhD supervisor Klug and the female victim, alongside that of another UCLA professor who used to teach Sarkar.
Detectives say Sarkar likely intended to kill that professor as well, but may have been unable to find him because he was not on campus.
LAPD chief Charlie Beck said that Sarkar was involved in a long-running dispute with both professors because he believed they had stolen computer codes he wrote as part of his PhD before passing them on to another student.
However, Beck added that there is no evidence to suggest this was true, saying the slight was a figment of Sarkar’s imagination. Beck refused to confirm Hasti’s identity, and would also not discuss sarkar’s motive for killing her or the nature of their relationship.
At the time of her death, Hasti was enrolled in the University of Minnesota Medical School, a university spokesman said. She first enrolled in the college in 2012. In 2008, she received a bachelor’s degree in Asian languages and literature from the same institution.
Beck said that Sarkar had traveled to Los Angeles ‘some time in the last couple of days’, raising the prospect that Hasti’s body had lain undiscovered for some time before officers found it.
Mark Bruley, a spokesman for the Brooklyn Park Police Department, confirmed that the shooting in Minnesota happened before the killing at UCLA, but said he could not reveal the time difference between the two.
Beck added that officers are checking on Sarkar’s family members and loved ones out of ‘an abundance of caution’ to see if there are other victims, but said they are not expecting to find any more.
Sarkar was armed with two 9mm semi-automatic pistols when he arrived at UCLA, Beck added, saying at least one was purchased legally in Minnesota. He also had several fully loaded magazines and additional loose ammunition.
Beck said: ‘This is a tragedy, but if there is a silver lining here, it’s that Sarkar could have done a lot more damage with the ordinance that he brought.’
Beck also revealed that detectives were led to Sarkar’s home by a note he left at the scene of the UCLA shooting asking whoever found his body to go and check on his cat.
Officers are also searching for a grey Nissan Sentra, with Minnesota licence plate 720 KTW, that Sarkar is believed to have used to drive from Minnesota to LA, saying there may be valuable evidence inside.
In a blog post uploaded on March 10 under Sarkar’s name, he writes that Klug ‘stole all my code and gave it another student’, branding him a ‘sick man’.
The post, which was uploaded to a blog called Long Dark Tunnel but has since been deleted, says: ‘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.’
Beck said that while Klug and his colleagues were aware of Sarkar’s issues with the property rights, and thought of his behavior as odd, they did not view him as a threat.
A source told the LA Times that Sarkar’s claims were ‘psychotic’, adding that his characterization of Klug as a thief is ‘absolutely untrue’.
Klug was dedicated to helping Sarkar pass the course, the source added, saying he bent over backwards to help even though the quality of Sarkar’s work was often below par.
A UCLA spokesman told Dailymail.com that Sarkar earned his PhD in the summer of 2013, the same year he submitted his dissertation thanking Klug for his help in putting it together.
His dissertation and thesis, which he compelted in 2013, was approved by Klug. Sarkar dedicated it to his late mother, Ira Sarkar.
The shooter’s social media profiles show he obtained his undergraduate degree in aerospace engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, in Kharagpur, in 2000. The prestigious institution is known as the MIT of India, and alumni include current Google CEO Sundar Pichai.
He then worked for a time as a software developer in Bangalore before moving to America, where he worked as a research assistant at the University of Texas in Arlington.
In 2003 he went to Stanford to study for a Masters in aeronautics and astronautics, graduating two years later, and then going back to work as a software developer in Texas.
It was after that job that he began studying for his PhD in mechanical engineering at UCLA, working as a teaching assistant for a few years, and then taking a job at Endurica, a rubber testing company where he specialized in ‘elastomer fatigue’.
However, an email from Endurica to the Dailymail.com revealed that Sarkar stopped working for that company back in 2014. It is not clear what, if any, employment he had in the last two years.
A UCLA spokesman said the institution is trying to establish whether Sarkar worked for them after he graduated, and whether he had any other connections to the college.
Klug, an associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at UCLA, was married with two young children and spent his spare time coaching his son’s little-league baseball team, friends said.
Co-workers praised Klug as both brilliant and kind, a rare blend in the competitive world of academic research, according to the LA Times.