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Student found dead in Florida dorm room planned campus attack, police say

Police discovered a handgun, a rifle and a backpack with four improvised explosive devices, in the room of the University of Central Florida student who shot himself to death. There was also evidence that a broader attack may have been planned, police say. NBC's Mark Potter reports.

A former student found dead in a University of Central Florida dorm room along with makeshift explosives and weapons was planning an attack on the school's Orlando campus, the university police chief said on Monday.

The man’s body was found at about 1 a.m. at the Tower 1 residence hall, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, officials said.

A fire alarm had gone off less than an hour earlier, and as campus police responded, a 911 call came in reporting a man with a gun, police said. When police went to investigate, they discovered the man’s body as well as a .45 caliber handgun, a .22 caliber tactical weapon and four homemade explosive devices. Hundreds of rounds of ammunition were also found, police said.

The explosives were found in a backpack near the student. They have since been disabled and removed, university officials said.

“Within the last hour we've discovered some material in the dorm room that makes this look like it was part of a planned attack on UCF campus,” university spokesman Grant Heston said in an afternoon news briefing.

The dead man was identified as James Oliver Seevakumaran, a 30-year-old former student in the business school who, though not enrolled for the current semester, was still living in the dorm pending his removal from the tower, officials said.

Notes and writings found in the dorm room indicate that Seevakumaran had a timeline of violence planned, university Police Chief Richard Beary said. No specific individuals were named as targets and he was acting alone, according to preliminary investigations.

Beary speculated the fire alarm was set off by Seevakumaran to draw people out in the open.

"While the crime scene processing was underway in that room we found some notes and some writings that indicated that this was a planned attack," Beary said. "This individual had laid out a timeline and laid out some of what we feel were going to be his actions. We’re pretty confident the fast response and some other situations maybe made him change his mind. At that point, he took his own life."

The man’s roommate had placed the 911 call and locked himself in the bathroom, Beary said. Responding officers were able to locate the roommate and rescue him. In the bedroom, they found Seevakamaran’s body. Later they discovered the weapons and explosives.

Seevakumaran had never been seen by university counselors or psychological services and did not have a record of misconduct, university officials said. 

Morning classes at the university were canceled, and the dorm, which houses 500 students, was evacuated along with a nearby parking garage. The school reopened at about noon.

The dorm near the college’s sports arena remained a crime scene most of the day as officers from the FBI, Orange County Sheriff’s Office and campus police investigated, university officials said. It was reopened in late afternoon, though the third floor where the body and explosives were found was still closed.

Counseling services were being offered to students.

"It could have been a bad day for everybody here," said Beary. "All things considered, I think we were very blessed at the University of Central Florida."

Chilling discovery inside University of Central Florida dorm room. WESH's Mark Barger reports.



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