The University of Central Florida student who police say helped thwart a mass murder recalled how he crouched behind his bathroom wall after his roommate trained a gun on him.
Arabo Babakhani told UCF Knightly News, a campus student news source, that he slammed a bathroom door shut on his roommate, James Oliver Seevakumaran, moments before Seevakumaran could pull the trigger.
“I just saw what was going on and I was like, I’m not going out like that, so I slammed the door and I just, uh, crouched,” Babakhani said in the interview.
Campus police said Seevakumaran, 30, was armed with two guns, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, a backpack filled with explosives and a plan to attack other students as they fled the seven-story dorm where he lived.
Seevakumaran shot himself in the head as officers arrived.
His plans, police say, were thrown off by campus police officers' quick response to a fire alarm and the 911 call from his roommate.
"It could have been a very bad day here for everybody. All things considered, I think we were very blessed here at the University of Central Florida," UCF Police Chief Richard Beary said. "One shooting is bad enough. Multiples would have been unthinkable. So, anybody armed with this type of weapon and ammunition could have hurt a lot of people here, particularly in a crowded area as people were evacuating."
Some 500 students were evacuated from the building just after midnight, unaware how narrowly they had escaped what could have been another Virginia Tech-style bloodbath. Morning classes were canceled, but most campus operations resumed around noon.
"The kid's bringing huge explosives in his room. So yeah, it could have been a lot worse," 19-year-old UCF sophomore Anthony Giamanco said shortly after arriving on campus Monday morning.
Roommates told detectives that while Seevakumaran showed some anti-social tendencies, he had never expressed any violent behavior. The business major, who held a job at an on-campus sushi restaurant, had never been seen by university counselors and had no disciplinary problems with other students, said university spokesman Grant Heston.
Police shed no light on a motive, but Heston said that the school had been in the process of removing Seevakumaran from the dormitory because he hadn't enrolled for the current semester. He had attended the university from 2010 through the fall semester.
Detectives found notes and other writings that indicated Seevakumaran had carefully planned an attack and "laid out a timeline of where he was going to be and what he was going to do," Beary said.
Police were first alerted when Seevakumaran pulled a gun on one of his roommates who called 911 and holed up in a bathroom, Beary said. Around the same time, Seevakumaran pulled a fire alarm, apparently to get other students out in the open, the police chief said.
Police officers responded to the dorm within three minutes of the first call.
"His timeline got off," Beary said. "We think the rapid response of law enforcement may have changed his ability to think quickly on his feet."
In his room, investigators found four makeshift explosive devices in a backpack, a .45-caliber handgun, a .22-caliber tactical rifle, and a couple hundred rounds of ammunition, police said. Beary said it appears his weapons and ammunition purchases began in February locally in Orlando.
Authorities say Seevakumaran had two packages waiting for him in the mailroom that contained two .22 round magazines, a sling designed to fit his weapon and a training DVD on proper shooting.
The Associated Press contributed to this report