By John Bacon and Natalie DiBlasio, USA TODAY
A former student at the University of Central Florida had amassed four explosive devices, two guns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition before killing himself in the dorm room from which he was soon to be evicted, police said Monday.
UCF Police Chief Richard Beary said writings found in the room indicated that the student, James Seevakumaran, 30, had planned an attack on the campus.
"We think the fast response made him change his mind ... and he took his own life," Beary said. "I think, all things considered, we were very blessed here at the University of Central Florida."
Beary said campus police received a fire alarm call at about 12:20 a.m. Monday. While responding to that call, police received a 911 call from a dorm resident saying Seevakumaran had pointed a gun at him.
Beary said the dorm resident closed his door and hid in his bathroom until police arrived to rescue him. Officers at the scene then found the body of Seevakumaran.
The explosive devices were found inside a bag in the dorm room, Beary said. An assault weapon, another gun and the ammunition also were found.
Beary theorized that Seevakumaran pulled the fire alarm himself to get students out in the open. But Beary credited the quick police response with foiling what could have been a mass killing.
"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."
The Orange County bomb squad, police and the FBI removed the devices from Tower 1, a residence hall for about 500 students. Students were evacuated and a parking garage was closed. Both reopened late Monday.
UCF spokesman Grant Heston said Seevakumaran had not enrolled or paid his dorm bill for spring semester, and the school was in the process of evicting him. He said Seevakumaran had never been seen by UCF counseling and had no issues on his record.
Jasmine Derrick, 19, a freshman from Atlanta, said she was studying for a chemistry exam in a lounge across from Tower 1 early Monday when a police officer ordered everyone in the study lounge to evacuate.
"There were police everywhere, students out there half-dressed, no shoes, in the cold," Derrick said. A few hours later, by searching social media and watching the UCF website, she learned the details of what happened.
"It's terrifying, it's sad," Derrick said. "This is devastating for a parent, to have to bury child."
Simone Hawkins, 19, a freshman psychology major from Chicago, was unable to return to her dorm room after studying early Monday morning because Tower II was in lockdown. She said it took two hours before the school's alert system began providing information to students.
"I feel like they should have given us more information sooner," she said. "The only way people found out anything was through social media, which can't always be trusted. I just feel it could have been handled a lot differently."