ORLANDO, Fla. - A University of Central Florida student who pulled a dorm fire alarm in the middle of the night had a more sinister plan to go on a deadly rampage on campus, police said.
UCF students are returning to class Tuesday after police said they uncovered the frightening plot.
Campus police said Monday that James Oliver Seevakumaran, 30, was armed with two guns, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, a backpack filled with explosives and a plan to attack other students as they fled the seven-story Tower 1 dorm where he lived.
His plans were thrown off by campus police officers' quick response to the fire alarm and a 911 call from Seevakumaran's roommate who had holed himself in a bathroom after Seevakumaran pointed a gun at him.
Police officers said they found Seevakumaran dead with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head in his dorm room. No other students were hurt.
"It could have been a very bad day here for everybody. All things considered, I think we were very blessed here at the University of Central Florida," said Richard Beary, University of Central Florida's police chief. "One shooting is bad enough. Multiples would have been unthinkable. So, anybody armed with this type of weapon and ammunition could have hurt a lot of people here, particularly in a crowded area as people were evacuating."
Some 500 students were evacuated from the building just after midnight Monday.
Police officers responded to the dorm within three minutes of the first call.
"His timeline got off," Beary said. "We think the rapid response of law enforcement may have changed his ability to think quickly on his feet."
Morning classes were canceled, but most campus operations resumed around noon.
Many students began packing up their belongings within minutes of being allowed back into the Tower 1 dorm.
UCF student Adrian Padron told WFTV, “Part of me doesn't feel safe.”
Roommates told detectives that while Seevakumaran showed some anti-social tendencies, he had never expressed any violent behavior. The business major from Lake Mary, who held a job at an on-campus sushi restaurant, had never been seen by university counselors and had no disciplinary problems with other students, said university spokesman Grant Heston.
“This SWAT guy with this gun, unlike any gun I've seen in person, comes and starts screaming at everyone, telling us to, ‘Move, move move!’” said Padron.
Police shed no light on a motive, but Heston said that before the episode, the school was in the process of removing Seevakumaran from the dormitory because he hadn't enrolled for the current semester. He had attended the university from 2010 through the fall semester.
Detectives said they found notes and other writings that indicated Seevakumaran had carefully planned an attack and "laid out a timeline of where he was going to be and what he was going to do," Beary said.
The school sent out electronic messages. The system of alerts is set up to keep more than 60,000 students and faculty members informed in similar situations. The school releases emergency alerts via email and text messages, along with online postings on the school website and Twitter, Facebook and other social media.
Students are automatically signed up for the service with information they provide to the registration office, but those who had no access to the latest technology say they wish school officials had also passed along the emergency information the old-fashioned way, too.
Meanwhile, WFTV reporter Deneige Broom has been looking into Seevakumaran's past.
Broom found out that he was not well-known on campus.
Seevakumaran’s roommates seemed to have had no idea he'd been loading up on guns and ammunition. Jackie Marquez was one of hundreds evacuated from her room. Marquez said she'd seen Seevakumaran from time to time, going through Tower 1’s side door.
Marquez said Seevakumaran seemed different, but not like a killer.
“He was just very quiet. It didn't seem like he talked to anybody as far as I noticed,” she said.
Broom also found out that Seevakumaran might not have talked much to his roommates either. He lived with three people, but had a private bedroom.
"I'll tell you what, that's probably the scariest feeling, just the fact that he had roommates and the roommates might not have known about it," said students Austin Kellogg.
UCF was in the process of evicting Seevakumaran because he hadn't registered for the spring semester and hadn't paid room or board.
His co-workers said they didn't know much about Seevakumaran.
The only documented trouble in the his past were an arrest in 2006 for driving without a license and a 2004 charge of selling alcohol to someone under the age of 21.
Beary said it appears Seekvakumaran’s began purchasing weapons and ammunition in February in Orlando.