BATON ROUGE, Louisiana
Police increased 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 contrast to the responses at other colleges to reports of gunfire since the Virginia Tech shootings in April. Police chose 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 Friday.
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.
Allam’s pregnant wife called police after finding the men dead, said Srinivasa Pothakamuri, a friend of Komma. Komma had been visiting Allam at the time of the shooting.
The killings were the first on campus in more than a decade.
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.
“Many of us took comfort that LSU implemented this system, so it’s worrisome that the system doesn’t work,” said Shenid Bhayroo, a graduate student who said he never received any messages, before or after the shootings.
The company hired to run the text-messaging system has not determined how many people received the message, O’Keefe said.
Nothing appeared to have been stolen from the apartment, leaving police unclear about a motive, O’Keefe said. LSU spokesman Charles 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.
In Hyderabad, India, Allam’s grief-stricken father said Saturday that his son sounded happy when they spoke earlier in the week.
“It’s unbelievable that my son is no more,” Rajaiah Allam said before boarding a flight to his U.S., where his wife and two daughters were already visiting the student.
Chandrasekhar Reddy Komma recently told his family that he was getting job offers, and also had recently married, said his brother K. Srinivas Reddy.
“Heavens have fallen on us. We never thought that such a tragedy is in store for us when everything looked so bright and promising,” Srinivas Reddy said.
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