More than 2,000 students and faculty members gathered at UCLA Thursday night to remember a beloved professor who was shot and killed by a former student in a murder-suicide on campus.
A massive crowd gathered for the candlelight vigil in Bruin Plaza, where the base of the mascot statue was covered with flowers and colored notes paying tribute to William Klug.
The 39-year-old engineering professor was shot in a campus office Wednesday by Mainak Sarkar, who then turned the gun on himself.
Sarkar, 38, claimed Klug had stolen his computer code and given it to another student. Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said Sarkar was mentally unstable and the theft was all in his mind.
Days before the murder-suicide, Sarkar also shot and killed a woman in Minnesota. The victim's uncle has identified her as Sarkar's estranged wife, Ashely Hasti, a medical student at the University of Minnesota.
The motive behind Hasti's killing is unknown, but her grandmother told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that Hasti and Sarkar "just didn't get along." Jean Johnson said the two split a year after their marriage in 2011 but didn't get a divorce because Hasti couldn't afford it.
Klug and Hasti were named on a "kill list" found at Sarkar's home in Minneapolis, along with a second UCLA professor whose name has not been released, authorities said.
Get Los Angeles's latest local news on crime, entertainment, weather, schools, COVID, cost of living and more. Here's your go-to source for today's LA news.
At the vigil Thursday, students and colleagues remembered Klug as a compassionate professor who motivated and inspired his students.
"He's really the reason why I went back to school after six years of being out. He's so inspirational," said Elaine Karaelias.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti spoke at the vigil to comfort those in mourning.
"I know that UCLA will not only survive, it will thrive. Stay open to the world. Don't cower, don't be afraid," Garcetti said.
Klug's wife, Mary Elise Klug, released a statement through UCLA Thursday thanking the community for its outpouring of support.
"This is an indescribable loss. Bill was so much more than my soulmate. I will miss him every day for the rest of my life. Knowing that so many others share our family’s sorrow has provided a measure of comfort," she said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.