UCLA gunman had accused slain professor of stealing his computer code, sources say

The gunman who shot and killed a UCLA professor Wednesday has been identified as Mainak Sarkar, a former doctoral student who had accused the victim of stealing his computer code and giving it to someone else, according to Los Angeles police.

Sarkar took his own life after killing William Klug, 39, in a small office in UCLA Engineering Building 4, sources confirmed. The Los Angeles County coroner’s office on Thursday did not identify the shooter, although it did confirm the victim’s identity Thursday morning.

Klug was an associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and had been the target of Sarkar’s anger on social media for months. On March 10, Sarkar called the professor a “very sick person” who should not be trusted.

“William Klug, UCLA professor is not the kind of person when you think of a professor. He is a very sick person. I urge every new student coming to UCLA to stay away from this guy,” Sarkar wrote. “He made me really sick. Your enemy is my enemy. But your friend can do a lot more harm. Be careful about whom you trust.”

A source called the gunman’s accusations “absolutely untrue.”

“The idea that somebody took his ideas is absolutely psychotic,” the source said.

Klug, who was described by friends as a kind and caring man, bent over backward to help Sarkar finish his dissertation and graduate even though the quality of his work was not stellar, the source added.

“Bill was a super nice guy,” the source said. “He didn’t want to hurt the guy.”

In his doctoral dissertation, submitted in 2013, Sarkar expressed gratitude to Klug for his help and support.

A syllabus from 2010 lists Sarkar as one of two teaching assistants in a mechanical and aerospace engineering course, MAE: 101: Statics and Strength of Materials. Sarkar was listed in the 2014 doctoral commencement booklet with Klug as his advisor.

“Thank you for being my mentor,” he wrote in the acknowledgements.

Before enrolling at UCLA, Sarkar earned a master’s degree at Stanford Universityfollowing an undergraduate degree in aerospace engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur, according to his LinkedIn page. In the U.S., he also had a stint as a research assistant at the University of Texas and worked as a software developer.

After UCLA, Sarkar worked remotely as an engineering analyst for an Ohio-based rubber company, Endurica LLC. Will Mars, the company’s president, confirmed to The Times that Sarkar worked for Endurica until August 2014. He declined to provide more details.

On Sarkar’s LinkedIn page, however, Mars offered a more specific recommendation in a post published Aug. 1, 2014: “Mainak is a steady contributor with solid technical skills in FEA and software development. I appreciate the quality of his work, and his careful approach to new problems. He has worked for Endurica in an off-site situation requiring great trust and independence, and he has performed well under those conditions.”

Matthew Uy, who provided many “endorsements” of Sarkar on LinkedIn, said that he worked in a lab at UCLA that “collaborated” with Sarkar, then a graduate student. Uy said he had not spoken with or seen Sarkar in about five years and felt “pretty disconnected” from him in general.

Times staff writers Kate Mather and Veronica Rocha contributed to this report.

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