UCF Plot Suspect Calculated Number of Victims He Could Target

Published: June 2, 2013

In a press conference on Friday, University of Central Florida (UCF) officials released an after-action review of a former student’s failed March massacre plot.

The incident started at 12:20 a.m. on March 18 when James Seevakumaran, 30, pulled a fire alarm in the university’s seven-story residence hall (Tower 1). He had planned to shoot the other students as they exited their apartments. He also planned to detonate “Molotov cocktails” to cause more injuries in what appears to have been a Columbine-style plot.

Before he could injure anyone, however, Seevakumaran encountered his roommate and pointed one of his firearms at him. The roommate retreated to his room and called 9-1-1. After this occurred, Seevakumaran went back into his room and shot himself in the head. When police arrived, they discovered his body and found a handgun, assault weapon and a bag of improvised explosive devices in the victim’s room, which he shared with three other roommates.

Prior to pulling the alarm, the subject had drawn a diagram of the building. He also calculated the number of students in Tower 1 and how many he could target in the 10-15 minutes before he thought police would arrive on the scene. Seevakumaran also wrote a short, violent story on his computer in which the protagonist struggled with his mixed-race background and then planned to commit mass murder.

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The key factor that prevented further tragedy was UCF PD’s quick response, said UCF Vice President Alfred Harms Jr. in the press conference. They were inside Tower 1 in three to five minutes. Another thing that probably saved lives during the incident was the fact that one of Seevakumaran’s firearms jammed.

The report released Friday, however, did describe areas of concern, specifically that Seevakumaran was not enrolled at UCF for the Spring of 2013, yet he was still living in the dorms.

In fact, in the fall of 2012, he had dropped two of his classes, only taking three credit hours when UCF’s housing eligibility rules state a student must be enrolled in and attending nine or more credit hours. The subject was also behind in his rent.

The school changed his room’s lock but didn’t deactivate his key card. Officials believed Seevakumaran used his key card to access the main building and his unit in the fall 2012 semester. His key card was deactivated in February 2013, and UCF changed the lock on his bedroom. Interviews revealed, however, that  between Feb. 21 and March 18, Seevakumaran “timed his entrances to the main building along with those of other residents to overcome his restricted access, and his roommates allowed him to enter the living unit.”

The school announced significant changes designed to improve campus security, including plans to review, enhance and adopt new enrollment verification and rent collection procedures. Inspection policies, funding of time-critical security equipment, expanded emergency shelter plans and an updated emergency alert policy were some of the other changes that were proposed.

Harms also emphasized that UCF is a safe campus.

“UCF remains a very, very safe campus, and it’s because of the dedicated hard work of police, staff members and all those who play a part,” he told UCFToday. “Security is everybody’s business, and it’s a noble, essential and top priority goal for everybody at UCF.”

Read the report.

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