A former UCF student found dead inside his dorm due to an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound was believed to have been planning a wider attack on campus, officials believe.
30-year-old James Oliver Seevakumaran, a UCF business major who wasn’t enrolled in the spring semester, was found dead in his dorm room in Tower 1 at the University of Central Florida on Monday. The dorm, which houses around 500 students, was evacuated early Monday after a fire alarm went off. A 911 call shortly after notified police of a man, later identified as Seevakumaran, with a gun.
Police entered the dorm armed with assault rifles and found Seevakumaran dead of an apparent suicide along with two guns, which included an American-Tech tactical .22 caliber rifle and High Point .45 caliber handgun, purchased at an Orlando gun store. Four improvised explosive devices were found in a backpack in the dorm. There were also hundreds of rounds of ammo found, officials said.
UCF police chief, Richard Beary, told the media that notes and timelines were found inside the dorm, making it appear that Seevakumaran had plans to make an attack on the campus. A timeline and other laid out plans appear to have been thrown off after authorities responded to the fire alarm quicker than he expected.
“His timeline got off,” Beary said at a press conference. “We think the rapid response of law enforcement may have changed his ability to think quickly on his feet.”
No individuals were named specifically, and he was acting alone, according to preliminary investigations.
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Police speculate Seevakumaran pulled the fire alarm himself to get students to evacuate. That’s when Seevakumaran pointed a gun at his roommate, who was able to get to safety and dial 911, police said. The roommate’s 911 call made the response to the fire alarm faster, officials said.
This roommate took to social media afterwards to thank everyone for their support. Officials say another roommate was out of town and the third roommate had left the apartment immediately when the alarm was set off, before Seevakumaran showed his gun.
UCF Spokesperson Grant Heston said Seevakumaran wasn’t currently enrolled at UCF and didn’t pay for housing that was due months before. UCF had begun its eviction process but didn’t immediately kick the student off campus.
“We try to take a compassionate approach, not to kick them off on day one,” Heston said.
Seevakumaran’s roommates told officials that he had shown anti-social behavior before but had never expressed any violent tendencies, Beary said. Seevakumaran was never seen by UCF Counseling and Psychological Services and had no student conduct record, UCF confirmed.
Seevakumaran was arrested back in 2006 by troopers after a traffic stop. During the traffic stop it was determined that Seevakumaran did not have a valid license and he had attached a tag not assigned to the vehicle. He was arrested without incident and booked into the Seminole County Jail.
“Times like today challenge us individually, as an organization, and as a university community,” UCF President John C. Hitt said. “The first test for all of us is whether we are focused on the safety of our community, and I am confident that UCF has passed that test. The safety and welfare of our students, faculty and staff, visitors, and neighbors is UCF’s highest priority. The test of compassion is also very important, and our prayers go to everyone affected by today’s incident.”
Tower 1 has been reopened.
Video produced by Sam Switkes