Chief: Thwarted 2013 attack at UCF similar to Florida school shooting

Both suspects described as loners with history of mental illness

By Louis Bolden - Investigative Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - University of Central Florida Police Chief Richard Beary said there are many similarities between the man who killed 17 people at a high school in Parkland and a man who planned an attack on the UCF campus five years ago.

"The first thing that goes through my mind is the terror for the parents and the families and what those students endured," Beary said.

He said his heart goes out to the staff and students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and he immediately thought back to 2013, when James Seevakumaran planned an attack at UCF but was thwarted by police before he could execute his plan, according to Beary.

"What we find in almost all active shooters is they tend to study other active shooter events," Beary said. "They try to learn from those events and they often copy what other shooters did."

In Parkland, Nikolas Cruz, 19, pulled the fire alarm at the school to lure students into the hallways, according to authorities. Seevakumaran was shown on surveillance camera doing the same thing in his on-campus dorm building.

"What he didn't expect was a rapid law enforcement response and the cops to be on the scene of a fire alarm," Beary said.

Seevakumaran shot himself when he realized law enforcement was already in the dorm. Beary says both men also had numerous rounds of ammunition.

Seevakumaran wasn't enrolled at UCF and was being evicted from his Tower I dorm room. Cruz had been expelled from Douglas High School.

Both were described as "loners" by peers and had a history of mental illness, according to authorities.

Beary said mental illness is often a common thread among mass shooters.

"The whole mental health issue, we absolutely have to address it or we're just going to keep repeating this cycle over, and over, and over again," he said.

Many changes took place at UCF after the 2013 incident, including addressing mental health issues, Beary said.

The school increased the number of counselors on campus and implemented more programs aimed at identifying people who might need help.

Copyright 2018 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.