[CN] – Calm appeared to return to a UCLA campus Wednesday afternoon as police continued to gather evidence at an engineering building where two men were shot to death in apparent murder-suicide.
Despite the restoration of a semblance of normalcy in many corners of the 419-acre campus, there were tell-tale signs nearly everywhere that Wednesday had been anything but a normal day at the university.
Traffic was heavy in and around the campus, with security officers and police restricting access to the immediate area around the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science building where SWAT teams, FBI agents and LAPD officers remained at around 1:30 p.m.
Elsewhere on the campus, students appeared to be going about their business in calm and orderly fashion. But the buzz of police helicopters was ever-present above.
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck declared the campus safe about two hours after authorities received a 911 call, describing the situation as “entirely contained.”
“We believe there are no suspects outstanding and that there is no continuing threat to the UCLA campus,” Beck said.
LAPD spokesman Andrew Neiman confirmed the campus was safe and secure, but said officers had stayed on the scene to continue their investigation.
“Our investigators will investigate the crime scene and gather evidence. The coroner will have to examine the bodies, and remove the bodies, and then there may be additional witnesses they have to talk to,” Neiman said.
He added: “We don’t know the victims’ relationship to the campus — whether they are student, faculty, a visitor. That will come as the investigation progresses and we can identify who they are and what really transpired here.”
The shooting occurred in a small office in an engineering building called Boelter Hall, and a gun was found along with what might be a suicide note, Beck said.
Neiman said that the identities of the victims would not be released until after a coroner’s officer had identified them.
The campus and surrounding area had been locked down since about 10:00 a.m. Pacific time, as hundreds of officers from multiple federal and local agencies swarmed the campus, many with weapons drawn.
Officers released students and faculty from the lock down in the afternoon.
Neuroscience student Isaiah Pearce, 19, said that in the morning he had received two phone alerts from the UCLA Police Department warning him of an active shooter on campus. Another “Bruin alert” told him the campus had been locked down.
Pearce, who said received multiple messages from friends asking if he was okay, said that he had barricaded his door with his “couch and everything we had,” closed his windows, turned off the lights and got down on the floor.
He said he did not hear gunshots but had rumors of multiple shooters.
Boelter Hall was close to where Perce was scheduled to go to class Wednesday morning. He said he had decided not to go because had other work to do.
“I’m very happy that I did not go to class today,” Pearce said.
In a prepared statement Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said that his “thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected.”
“This horrific event, at an institution dedicated to learning and mutual understanding, reminds us once again of the fragility of a peaceful society. Thankfully, the campus is now safe – but I am heartbroken by the sight of SWAT teams running down avenues normally filled with students, and angered by the fear that one person with a firearm can inflict on a community. I want to commend the entire UCLA community for its extraordinary grace and calm on a traumatic morning,” Garcetti said.
City attorney Mike Feuer, who is co-founder and co-chair of Prosecutors Against Gun Violence, said that everyone should be “shielded from gun violence.”
“But this morning’s tragedy at UCLA is another grim reminder that in America today gun violence respects no boundaries,” Feuer said. “We cannot allow shootings to become a way of life in our nation.” The Associated Press contributed to this report.