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Relatives mourn as police hunt LSU suspects

Police stepped up patrols at Louisiana State University as they investigate the killings of two doctoral students from India.
LSU Shootings
Louisiana State University police officer Stephen Kozusky secures the scene Friday after two students were found shot to death at their LSU apartment in Baton Rouge, La.Tim Mueller / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Police stepped up patrols at Louisiana State University as they investigate the killings of two doctoral students from India, while the campus remained open Saturday for the last day of exams.

Unlike other schools where shots were fired after the massacre at Virginia Tech, officials opted not to shut down LSU. Investigators believe the killings were part of an isolated home invasion, 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 911 after finding the men dead, said Srinivasa Pothakamuri, a friend of Komma. Komma, a biochemistry student, had been visiting Allam, who was in the chemistry program.

The killings were the first on campus in more than a decade.

No clear motive
Nothing appeared to be stolen from the apartment, leaving police unclear about a motive, O'Keefe said. Zewe said police were searching for three men seen leaving the area.

LSU officials sent a campus-wide alert out after midnight Friday, 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.

Shenid Bhayroo, a graduate student in mass communication, said he signed up for the text-messaging system days after it was set up but never received any messages, before or after the shootings.

"Many of us took comfort that LSU implemented this system, so it's worrisome that the system doesn't work," Bhayroo said.

The company hired to run the text-messaging system hasn't determined how many people received the message, O'Keefe said. The news release said all current and future subscribers will now get text messages.

Campus stayed open
This fall, officials at the University of Memphis canceled class the day after football player Taylor Bradford was shot because authorities were uncertain at the time whether it was a targeted or random attack. After two students were shot in September at Delaware State University, administrators ordered a swift shutdown of the campus, citing April's Virginia Tech shootings in which a gunman killed 32 people and himself.

Officials at LSU concluded a similar shutdown was not needed.

"There was no evidence, nothing to suggest that there was a pattern here that would rapidly escalate. And as a consequence of that, a determination was made that we would not lock down the campus," O'Keefe said.

The complex has a tall fence separating its 288 residents from the off-campus neighborhood, but the apartments have no gates or surveillance cameras.

‘Unbelievable that my son is no more’
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, a third-year Ph.D. candidate in computer science.

In Hyderabad, India, Allam's grief-stricken father said Saturday that his son sounded happy when they spoke earlier this 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.

"They were so happy that their second wedding anniversary was coinciding with the arrival of their first child," said A. Padma, Kiran Kumar Allam's aunt in Gajulapally, about 125 miles north of Hyderabad.

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.