A UCLA student reportedly upset about his grades fatally shot a mechanical engineering professor in a campus building Wednesday morning before turning the gun on himself.
The shooting shortly before 10 a.m. local time brought a massive police response. Hundreds of heavily armed officers swarmed the sprawling Westwood campus, while thousands of students and staff barricaded themselves in classrooms and offices, some using belts and chairs to secure doors.
Approximately two hours after the shooting was first reported, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck declared the threat over. The chief confirmed at least three shots were fired and said authorities found a gun and what might be a suicide note.
The Associated Press and multiple local outlets identified the victim as William S. Klug, a married father of two young children.
UCLA biology and chemistry Professor Charles Knobler said those who knew Klug are in shock. He described the professor as “a very lively, lovable, likable guy.”
The shooter was not immediately identified except as a male. KTTV and the Los Angeles Daily News reported that the gunman may have been a graduate student, while KNX radio, citing a law enforcement source, reported that the gunman was “despondent” about his grades.
The shooting disrupted the week before final exams at the University of California, Los Angeles, whose 43,000 students make it the largest campus in the University of California system. Classes were canceled Wednesday, but they are expected to resume Thursday. However, UCLA Vice Chancellor and Provost Scott Waugh said engineering classes were cancelled for the rest of the week.
The inital report of the shooting prompted the university to send a so-called “Bruin Alert” to all students and staff notifying them to avoid the area and shelter in place.
Olivia Cabadas, a 22-year-old nursing student, was getting ready to take a quiz in the mathematics building when her classmates began getting cellphone alerts. Through a window, they could see students rushing down the hallway.
An officer yelled that everyone should get out.
“It was just a little surreal — this is actually happening,” Cabadas said. “It was chaos.”
Those locked down inside classrooms described a nervous calm. Some said they had to rig the doors closed with whatever was at hand because they would not lock.
Umar Rehman, 21, was in a math sciences classroom adjacent to Engineering IV, the building where the shooting took place. The buildings are connected by walkway bridges near the center of the 419-acre campus.
“We kept our eye on the door. We knew that somebody eventually could come,” he said, acknowledging the terror he felt.
The door would not lock and those in the room devised a plan to hold it closed using a belt and crowbar, and demand ID from anyone who tried to get in.
Waugh said the university would look into concerns about doors that would not lock. Overall, he said, the response was smooth.
Tanya Alam, 19, also was in the same classroom with about 20 other students. She said she saw an alert on her phone that warned of police activity near Engineering IV. Then, several minutes later, an alert said there was an active shooter.
“I let that sink in. Then I realized there was a shooter on campus and Engineering IV is right here! So I said it out loud,” she said.
The teacher’s assistant told students to shut their laptops, turned out all the lights and switched off the projector. They were ordered to be quiet and got under their desks. Sitting on the ground, Alam cried.
Students were told to put their phones away, too, but no one did, she said. In the darkened room, the glow of screens illuminated many faces.
“On one hand, yes, this is an emergency. But on the other hand when your mother is calling from miles away …” Alam said, trailing off.
Their entire classroom was finally allowed to leave. Students were greeted by a phalanx of SWAT team members but were not searched.
SWAT officers cleared occupants one by one at the mathematical sciences building. One man walked out with his hands up and was told to get on his knees. An armed officer searched him and his backpack, then sent him on his way with his hands still in the air.
Along with the LAPD and UCLA campus police, the FBI and ATF both dispatched agents to the campus. The White House said President Obama was briefed about the shooting aboard Air Force One en route to a speech in Indiana.
FoxNews.com’s Malia Zimmerman, Fox News’ Matthew Dean and The Associated Press contributed to this report.