In the first sign of a breakthrough, a four-agency task force hunting the killers of two Indian students at the Louisiana State University (LSU) has released sketches of two of the four black male suspects.
One of them is believed to have been the driver of a car seen at Edward Gay Apartments on the campus where the two doctotoral students, Chandrasekhar Reddy Komma, 31, and Kiran Kumar Allam, 33, were found shot dead on Thursday night.
Police believe up to four men might have been involved in the killings. They apparently came in an older model light-colored vehicle, a Oldsmobile Alero seen speeding away from the scene of the crime, Baton Rouge police spokesman Sergeant Don Kelly said on Monday.
The suspected get away driver was described as being a black man in his 20s with hair done in twists in rows. He was wearing a white hooded sweatshirt.
The second was described as a black man in his 20s or 30s, possibly older. He is between 5 feet 8 inches and 5 feet 10 inches tall with a muscular build and a receding hairline. He was wearing a white long-sleeve shirt with a high collar and dark jeans.
Both men were seen at the on-campus complex near West Roosevelt Street as early as 9 pm on Thursday, Kelly said. They might have been in the general area even earlier.
Investigators are currently working on the theory the men were scouting for an opportunity to rob someone and might have seen Komma arrive at the complex to visit his friend Allam, and may have followed Komma into Allam's apartment.
Komma and Allam were shot in the head, and one was bound. A call to 911 was made at 10:37 pm on Thursday when their bodies were found.
"These suspects should obviously be considered armed and dangerous and should not be approached," police said seeking information from the public. The sketches have also been posted on the university website.
Meanwhile, two Indian diplomats Alok Pandey, first secretary at the Indian embassy in Washington and KP Pillai, consul at the mission in Houston, met Baton Rouge city's Mayor-President Melvin "Kip" Holden and Chief of Police Jeff LeDuff to learn more about the progress in investigations.
Holden assured the Indians that the task force - made up of the LSU Police Department, Baton Rouge Police Department, Louisiana State Police and East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office - is at it and they will bring the culprits to justice.
Thanks to the mayor's intervention, the coroner's office Monday issued death certificates of the two slain students. The funeral home too has released the embalmed bodies. With necessary formalities completed, the bodies are likely to be flown to India by the weekend, Pandey said on phone.
Komma's wife left for India on Sunday along with relatives and fiends. Parents and wife of Allam are scheduled to leave for India on Tuesday.
LSU has lowered the American flag on the Parade Ground to half-mast in honour of the slain students. The flag will fly at half-mast until 4:30 pm on Friday
The LSU Foundation has established the Komma & Allam Support Fund to assist the students' families.