Published December 14, 2007
BATON ROUGE, La. – Two students were found shot to death in a home invasion at a Louisiana State University apartment, and officials decided to keep the campus open Friday while police searched for three suspects.
The victims, Chandrasekhar Reddy Komma and Kiran Kumar Allam, both doctorate students from India, were found inside an apartment at the Edward Gay complex late Thursday night after authorities received an emergency call.
Police patrols were increased on the 30,000-student campus Friday and students were told to be cautious, but the university was not locked down. Students were taking the last of their final exams, and many had already left for the semester.
The decision not to lock down the campus was made by police after they determined it was an isolated incident and would not spread to other areas of the campus, LSU Chancellor Sean O'Keefe said at a Friday morning news conference.
"There was no evidence, nothing to suggest that there was a pattern here that would rapidly escalate, and as a consequence of that, a determination was made that we would not lock down the campus," O'Keefe said.
Allam's pregnant wife called 911 at 10:37 p.m. Thursday after finding the men dead, according to Srinivasa Pothakamuri, a friend of Komma, and campus officials. Komma, a biochemistry student, had been visiting Allam, who was in the chemistry program.
The men were each shot once in the head, said Charles Zewe, an LSU system spokesman. Komma was bound with a computer cable, and Allam was found near the door. O'Keefe said that nothing appeared to be stolen, but police were still doing an inventory of the apartment.
Three men were seen leaving the area, and police were searching for them Friday, Zewe said.
An emergency text message was sent to students registered for an emergency alert system at 12:14 a.m., but not all students received it, the university said. It wasn't clear what caused the failure, and the problem was being investigated.
Many campuses implemented alert systems following the shootings at Virginia Tech earlier this year. University spokeswoman Kristine Calongne said only 8,000 students — less than one-third of the student body — had signed up for cell-phone notification at LSU. Officials also sent out an e-mail, voice mail message and posted a message to the university's Web site.
The apartment building where the shootings took place is designated for married and graduate students, and is near a field on the 2,000-acre campus where the university's band practices. A cluster of pale yellow cinderblock, three-story buildings, it sits on the edge of the campus, close to one of Baton Rouge's highest-crime areas.
The complex has a tall fence separating it from the off-campus neighborhood, but the apartments have no gates or surveillance cameras. Tesident Omer Soysal said attempted break-ins and holdups are common at the complex.
"When it is dark, I tell my kids, 'Don't go outside,"' said Soysal, 37, a third-year Ph.D. candidate in computer science.
Since Virginia Tech, colleges and universities have often decided to lock down the campus after reports of gunfire. At the University of Memphis, university officials decided to cancel class the day after football player Taylor Bradford was shot this fall. Authorities were uncertain at the time whether it was a targeted or random attack.
At Delaware State University, administrators ordered a swift shutdown of the campus in September after two students were shot. Officials said then that the Virginia Tech tragedy influenced their actions, and that they felt the biggest lesson of the tragedy was not to wait to take action.