Investigators find car believed to belong to UCLA gunman

By Alex Dobuzinskis and Piya Sinha-Roy
Sister Mourns Slain Wife of UCLA Shooter
Sister Mourns Slain Wife of UCLA Shooter

LOS ANGELES, June 3 (Reuters) - A car found near Los Angeles on Friday belonged to a former graduate student who shot dead his estranged wife at her Minnesota home before driving halfway across the country and killing a professor and himself at the University of California, Los Angeles, a police spokeswoman said.

SEE ALSO: Mainak Sarkar's 2003 gray Nissan Sentra was found in Culver City, a suburb just outside Los Angeles

Mainak Sarkar's 2003 gray Nissan Sentra was found in Culver City, a suburb just outside Los Angeles, and a bomb squad has been sent to examine the vehicle, said Los Angeles police spokeswoman Liliana Preciado.

The car was found blocks from an apartment where Sarkar once lived.

Police do not know yet how Sarkar traveled to UCLA after he left his car in Culver City, about 6 miles (10 km) away from UCLA, said Los Angeles police spokesman Drake Madison.

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Investigators have been looking for the car since Wednesday, when Sarkar shot to death 39-year-old engineering professor William Klug at UCLA.

The shooting drew a massive response of heavily armed police and sparked a two-hour lockdown of UCLA's sprawling urban campus. Students said they hid in classrooms behind doors, some of which did not lock.

Sarkar had intended to also kill a second professor at UCLA, police said. The native of India was convinced that Klug had stolen software he had developed, according to police, who called Sarkar's claim unfounded.

Earlier, Sarkar had killed his estranged wife Ashley Hasti, at her home in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, police said. Hasti's sister, Alex Hasti, described her in a statement on Facebook as a 31-year-old medical school student with a love of acting and stand-up comedy.

So far no motive has emerged to explain why he killed Hasti in the home they had shared in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, some 2,000 miles (3,200 km) from Los Angeles.

Hasti was found dead early on Thursday morning of multiple gunshot wounds, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office said in a statement on Friday.

"Because this was an unwitnessed death, a more accurate date and time of death cannot be determined," the statement said.

Sarkar is believed to have forced his way into Hasti's home through a window, which was found broken, Brooklyn Park police said in a statement.

Police only decided to check on Hasti after finding a note at the Los Angeles crime scene written by Sarkar, 38, asking authorities to check on his cat at his home in St. Paul.

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The bizarre hint led to the discovery of a "kill list" that included Klug, Hasti and the second professor, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck told reporters on Thursday.

Alex Hasti on her Facebook post offered no indication of what might have provoked Sarkar.

"My sister, Ashley Hasti, was the smartest, coolest, and funniest person I knew. She could do anything she dreamed of," the sister said. "Unfortunately, she won't get to see that last dream come true as her life was cut short much too soon by her estranged husband ... I'm still in a state of shock right now."

Sarkar was armed with twin 9mm semiautomatic handguns and multiple extra clips of ammunition, authorities said.

The two guns were legally bought in Minnesota, according to Meredith Davis, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. She declined to say who bought the weapons.

Wednesday's attack was the latest in a long string of deadly shootings at U.S. schools, including an October attack at an Oregon community college that killed nine and a 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech, in which a gunman killed 32 people, was the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

PAIR WED IN 2011

Ashley Hasti married Sarkar in 2011, according to a copy of a marriage license obtained by Reuters. An active Facebook page belonging to Hasti shows pictures of Sarkar, none more recent than May 2011.

A page apparently belonging to Sarkar, with no public posts since 2011, prominently displayed several photos of them together.

SEE ALSO: UCLA shooting suspect's wife found shot to death in Minnesota after discovery of alleged 'kill list'

Sarkar came from India's eastern state of West Bengal, where he graduated from the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology at Kharagpur in 2000 after studying aerospace engineering, according to an ex-classmate and the university's alumni list.

Staff at his secondary school in the industrial town of Durgapur remembered him as an able student who passed his exams with good results.

"My initial reaction was one of shock and disbelief," said Gautam Biswas, who taught Sarkar in the 9th and 10th grades at St. Michael's School in Durgapur, West Bengal. "How could he do this? That was the question that racked my mind for long hours." (Additional reporting by Amy Tennery in New York, Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee and Sujoy Dhar in Kolkata; Writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and David Gregorio)