BATON ROUGE, La. – Police stepped up patrols at Louisiana State University while they investigate the killings of two doctoral students from India, but the campus remained open Saturday, the last day of final exams.
The decision to keep the campus open was in sharp contrast to the responses at other colleges to reports of gunfire since the Virginia Tech shootings in April. Police opted not to blockade the campus or reschedule tests because investigators believe the killings were part of an isolated home invasion, LSU Chancellor Sean O'Keefe said.
Chandrasekhar Reddy Komma, 31, a biochemistry student from Kurnool, and Kiran Kumar Allam, 33, a chemistry student from Hyderabad were found late Thursday after being shot in the head inside an apartment complex for married and graduate students. One was tied up with a computer cable.
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Allam's pregnant wife called 911 after finding the men dead, said Srinivasa Pothakamuri, a friend of Komma. Komma, a biochemistry student, had been visiting Allam, who was in the chemistry program.
The killings were the first on campus in more than a decade.
Nothing appeared to be stolen from the apartment, leaving police unclear about a motive, O'Keefe said. Zewe said police were searching for three men seen leaving the area.
The complex has a tall fence separating its 288 residents from the off-campus neighborhood, but the apartments have no gates or surveillance cameras.
Resident Omer Soysal said attempted break-ins and holdups are common at the apartments, where nearly all the residents are international students.
"When it is dark, I tell my kids: 'Don't go outside,"' said Soysal, 37, a third-year Ph.D. candidate in computer science.
LSU officials sent a campus-wide alert out after midnight, more than an hour and a half after the shootings. Officials sent out e-mail and voicemail messages and posted a message on the university's Web site. But the text message alert did not reach all its recipients.
A problem with the text-message service provider was corrected by afternoon, according to a brief news release late Friday from the university.
Shenid Bhayroo, a graduate student in mass communication, said he was keeping a sharper eye on his surroundings and on the people he sees on the streets. Many of his friends said they are, too, he said.
Bhayroo said he signed up for the text-messaging system days after it was set up but never received any messages, before or after the shootings.
"There haven't been any," Bhayroo said. "Many of us took comfort that LSU implemented this system, so it's worrisome that the system doesn't work."
The company hired to run the text-messaging system hasn't determined how many people received the message, O'Keefe said. The news release said all current and future subscribers will now get text messages.