The UCLA Gunman Left A “Kill List” At Home Before Opening Fire On The Campus

Police have identified the UCLA gunman responsible for opening fire in the campus’ engineering building who then took his own life Wednesday night. Police found a “kill list” at the UCLA shooter’s home that included the two slain victims and a professor who is unharmed, according to The Washington Post. Mainak Sarkar, a 38-year-old Ph.D. graduate of the program, also shot a woman where he was living in Minnesota who police later found dead from gunshot wounds in her home. Sarkar then drove 2,000 miles to Los Angeles with two semiautomatic handguns and multiple ammunition refills, where he shot his former UCLA engineering professor William S. Klug multiple times in a “small office.” He then shot himself, and detectives found a note next to both bodies listing Sarkar’s Minnesota address and a request to check on his cat. The local woman’s identity or relationship with Sarkar will not be released until police notify her next of kin.

The shooting prompted a two-hour lockdown on campus Wednesday morning, where students hid in their classrooms, barricading the doors to protect themselves.

Sarkar’s social media presence offered glimpses into his feelings towards his former professor, where he said: “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. He made me really sick. Your enemy is my enemy. But your friend can do a lot more harm. Be careful about whom you trust.”

Police say he accused his professor of stealing his computer code and giving it to someone else. The Los Angeles Times reports a source refuting those claims, describing Klug as a “kind and caring man” who worked tirelessly to help Sarkar with his dissertation, even though Sarkar’s work was “not stellar.”

Charlie Beck, Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, told The Washington Post: “Everybody tries to look for a good reason for this. There is no good reason for this. This is a mental issue, mental derangement.”

Whether you agree with conservative commentator Anne Coulter’s bold statement that “guns don’t kill people — the mentally ill do” is irrelevant, because someone living with enough pain and anger to commit unspeakable crimes needs more help than scrutiny. The American Journal of Public Health addresses questions of whether Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza was an undiagnosed schizophrenic or “just” a loner. Expending efforts to fruitlessly label behavior fails to address the larger problem that the mentally ill aren’t getting the help they desperately need.

Given that untreated mental health issues seem to be the common concern at the core of many recent mass murders, it’s time we a) tighten firearm laws and b) provide wider access to mental health treatment facilities as a measure of preventing these tragedies from happening altogether. You don’t need a formal diagnosis to seek help. According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 5,495 firearm-related deaths in the U.S. this year, and it’s only June.

But GoFundMe pages (like this one) to support Klug’s two children through college are a necessary reminder that victims are so much more than a statistic, and we need to work harder at the local and federal level to keep their legacies alive.