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2 Indian students murdered in US

By A Correspondent in New York
Last updated on: December 15, 2007 01:25 IST
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Chandrasekhar Reddy Komma and Kiran Kumar Allam, two PhD students from India at the Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, were found murdered at the latter's apartment on December 13.


Allam lived at the Edward Gay Apartments, located near the intersection of West Roosevelt Street and Governor Claiborne Drive, adjacent to the LSU Band practice field in Baton Rouge. The apartment building was inside the university campus.


The initial call to LSU police department came in at 10:37 pm on Thursday as a medical emergency. Officials did not reveal who made that call.


"Nobody knows what happened or the motive behind the murders. But it was not like the Virginia Tech shooting," Praveen Mudunuri, treasurer of the Indian Students Association, said.


"We are in a state of shock. We still cannot believe this kind of a thing can happen on campus. I hope the security on campus will be strengthened. I don't know what else to say, it is a complete massacre," said Dheeraj Reddy, incoming student coordinator for the association.


Both Komma and Allam hailed from Andhra Pradesh. While Allam was doing his PhD in chemistry, Komma was pursuing a doctorate in biology. They had been students of the Louisiana State University for the last 3-4 years, Mudunuri said. Over 300 Indian students study at the LSU.


Ravi Tej Kavalipati, president of the association, spoke with the victims' families in India and offered to help with the arrangements to take the bodies back to India.


Komma and Allam might have been killed during a home invasion, said Kristine Calongne, a university spokeswoman.


Both had been shot in the head, but there was no sign of forced entry. Komma was bound with a computer cable and Allam's body was found near the door.


A 911 call was also made by Allam's pregnant wife, who returned home and found the bodies, Komma's friend Srinivasa Pothakamuri told the media. Both Komma and Allam were married.


The LSUPD is currently investigating the case, with assistance from the Baton Rouge Police Department, but no suspects have been identified, a university press release said.


The murders may not be a random event, according to LSU Chancellor Sean O'Keefe.  


At a press conference on December 14, O'Keefe said that Komma and Allam "appeared to be targeted for reasons unknown. This does not appear to be a random event." O'Keefe also offered his condolences to the victims' families.


LSU Police Major Lawrence Rabalais said that investigators are looking into a 2006 incident in which a chemistry student threatened one of the victims. However, Rabalais said he wasn't sure which of the victims was involved, according to the Morning Advocate


Soon after the incident, the university officials asked the LSU community to use caution when moving around in the campus.


Officers and medical personnel were immediately dispatched to the scene. The university officials, who rushed to the campus, gathered the latest information and sent out an emergency text message to members of the LSU community who had previously registered their cell phone numbers with the university's emergency text-message system.


University officials also sent out a broadcast e-mail to members of the LSU community, sent a broadcast voice message to all campus phones and posted a message to the LSU.


However, not everyone who had registered their cell phones with the system received an emergency message about the incident. The university is now investigating the problem with clearTXT, which is the text-message service provider, and is trying to fix the problem.

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A Correspondent in New York