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US steps up hunt for varsity killers

Meanwhile, two Indian diplomats are meeting the police and the Baton Rouge mayor on Monday to learn more about investigations.

world Updated: Dec 17, 2007 13:58 IST
Arun Kumar

Leads eluded a four-agency task force even as it stepped up its hunt for the killers of two Indian students at a US university with help from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

"Everything that can be done right now is being done," said Baton Rouge police Sergeant Don Kelly, spokesman of the task force formed a day after the Thursday night's killings at the Louisiana State University (LSU) in Baton Rouge. "There is no shortage of resources being donated to the case," he said.

But the task force has not definitively determined a motive in the murder of two Ph.D. students, Chandrasekhar Reddy Komma, 31, of Hyderabad, and Kiran Kumar Allam, 33, of Kurnool, Kelly said. There was "not enough information available right now to rule anything in or out".

Authorities are in the process of inventorying the apartment - where they could not find any sign of forced entry - to see if anything was missing, Kelly said. Police have determined that there are some items in the apartment that could be unaccounted for, but he would not elaborate.

They are still looking for three men who were seen hurriedly leaving Allam's apartment Thursday night and entering a car driven by another man, who drove into a nearby neighbourhood, Kelly said. Police planned to hand out fliers seeking information about the shootings and hoped to talk to people who live along the streets the car drove down.

Stepping up outside patrols and seeking evidence, task force officers knocked on all doors to interview residents at the Edward Gay Apartments where the two students were fatally shot in the head.

The officers of 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 - also continued interviews with the wives and families of the slain students and searched their homes and cars for evidence.

Two LSU Police officers stood guard outside Allam's apartment and the victims' families have not been allowed inside.

Meanwhile, two Indian diplomats Alok Pandey, first secretary at the Indian embassy in Washington and K.P. Pillai, consul at the mission in Houston are meeting the police and the Baton Rouge mayor Monday to learn more about investigations.

The two have had a series of meetings with the victims' spouses, university authorities, police department, the Indian Students Association and the Indian-American community after they came to Baton Rouge following the double murder.

The Indian ambassador to the US, Ronen Sen, who too has spoken to LSU's Sean O'Keefe Sunday, talked on the phone with Kiran Kumar's father Rajaiah Allam, shortly after his arrival from India and assured him of all the help needed by the victims' families.

Besides relatives, a large number of students, members of the Indian American community and local officials, including the city's Mayor-President Melvin "Kip" Holden, attended a memorial service Sunday at a funeral home where the bodies were placed for a couple of hours.

Once the necessary paper work is completed, hopefully Monday, the bodies will be flown to India as requested by the victims' families, Pandey said on phone from Baton Rouge.

The LSU Foundation has established the Komma & Allam Support Fund to assist the students' families.

LSU said it has resolved problems with its emergency notification system and assured that all LSU students, faculty and staff members who opt for it, or have previously done so, will automatically receive text notifications. LSU is also planning a full-scale test of the system Jan 18, which is the first week of classes in the spring semester.

"This tragic and horrible event is a grim reminder that in every community in which we live, there are dangers," O'Keefe said. "When those dangers arise, it is important that we communicate effectively."