Doctoral Pair Shot Dead on LSU Campus

The text message system to alert LSU students to emergencies partially failed.

January 8, 2009, 1:16 AM

Dec. 14, 2007 — -- A pair of graduate students at Louisiana State University were shot and killed Thursday night in what police believe was a home invasion at a campus apartment.

The university identified the two victims as Chandrasekhar Reddy Komma and Kiran Kumar Allam, both male, international students from India who were doctoral candidates. The shooting occurred inside Allam's apartment inside a Baton Rouge, La., housing complex for the university's graduate students, LSU Chancellor Sean O'Keefe said at a news conference early this afternoon.

The two men, whose ages were not released and who are both married, were each shot in the head with a single bullet in what O'Keefe said appears for now to be a targeted home invasion, O'Keefe said. One man was bound while the other was found dead near the door to the apartment.

"There is no motive that has been determined at this time," O'Keefe said. "The preliminary determination is that this was a home invasion."

The first call of a "medical emergency" came into the LSU Police Department at 10:37 p.m. Authorities found the two victims dead inside the apartment complex. It is unclear who made the initial 911 call.

Authorities from the LSU police department spent the night interviewing the other residents inside the apartment complex and said that three suspicious men may have been seen leaving the building. There are no specific suspects in the case.

O'Keefe said it was difficult to determine whether anything had been stolen because of "clutter" inside the apartment.

University officials sent out e-mail and voice mail blasts overnight warning students to use extra caution on campus after the apparent double homicide.

The university also attempted to activate its emergency text-message response system, which sends messages by text to about 8,400 members of the community who signed up for the public safety service.

The school acknowledged, however, that the emergency text message system, at least in part, failed. "The tragic homicides that took place on campus Thursday evening provided an opportunity for the university to test its new emergency text-message system," university officials wrote in a statement that acknowledged some of those who had signed up to receive the texts failed to get the emergency notices.

"The university is now investigating the problem with clearTXT, which is the text-message service provider, and is working to fix this problem rapidly," the statement reads.

LSU was one of the many colleges that implemented the emergency text-message notification systems after the massacre in April at Virginia Tech.

O'Keefe said that the school considered locking down the campus at midnight but decided against the drastic measure. "To enforce against what was the problem," he said. "There was no evidence to suggest there was a pattern here that would rapidly escalate."

The chancellor defended the school's response to Thursday night's shooting. "There were multiple means in which information to members of this community went out," he said.

A task force was created this morning that united LSU investigators with the state police and Baton Rouge Police Department. Authorities continue to investigate the crime scene and autopsies have been planned on the two students for later today.

The apartment where the shootings took place is a campus building but is separated from the north side of the campus by a block. O'Keefe said that the building has the same security measures as all other campus buildings but said he did not believe that complex was equipped with surveillance cameras.

University officials said that the last student homicide on the LSU campus took place in the late 1990s. In that incident, a student died during a gang-related drive-by shooting.

Counselors were made available to members of the student body both in person at the campus health center and over the phone.

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