A retired administrator was fatally stabbed Monday on the first day of the school year at California State University at Fullerton, with the assailant seen fleeing the scene, police said.
Steven Shek Keung Chan, 57, of Hacienda Heights, Calif., had returned to work in international student affairs at the school, and police said he appeared to have been targeted.
“It is with such a heavy heart and a deep and profound sense of sadness that I inform you that our colleague and friend, Steven Chan, a beloved and long-serving member of the Titan Family, passed away this morning after a tragic and senseless attack in the parking lot behind College Park,” Framroze Virjee, president of Cal State Fullerton, wrote in a statement to the campus.
Chan served as director of budget and finance and student services for the school’s University Extended Education division from 2009 until retiring in 2017, and returned to campus as a special consultant in early 2019, according to Virjee’s statement.
Police said they did not know why Chan might have been singled out.
“We do not believe there is an active stabber on the loose,” Lt. Jon Radus of the Fullerton Police Department said.
Law-enforcement officers found a backpack underneath Chan’s car, Radus said, and a bomb squad from the sheriff’s office in Orange County, Calif., found an incendiary device and “numerous items that could be used to conduct a kidnapping.”
Radus declined to describe the latter items in more detail but said the incendiary device was a bottle of flammable liquid with matches taped to it. He said authorities believe the backpack was left unintentionally by the suspect and was a further indication of a targeted attack.
University police received a 911 call shortly before 8:30 a.m. about a man bleeding from the head, said Radus, whose agency is assisting campus police. When officers responded minutes later to a parking lot near an administrative building on campus, they found a man in his late 50s sitting in a silver Infiniti sedan and bearing stab wounds across his body.
Despite efforts by city and campus police to save his life, Chan was pronounced dead by Fullerton Fire Department workers when they arrived, Radus said.
“I did not have the honor of knowing Steven personally or working with him directly,” Virjee wrote, “but over the past few hours, in providing a shoulder to lean on for those who were close to him, it is clear that he was beloved for his commitment to and passion for both Cal State Fullerton and our Titan Family.”
The witness who called 911 saw the assailant running away and described him as a man in his 20s. Bloodhounds from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office were deployed to try to find him, Radus said at a news conference. He said they were not aware of threats made against any faculty members.
Student leaders did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The public university has about 40,000 students and more than 4,000 faculty and staff members.
“Given the nature of the incident and in light of our continued number one concern — the safety of our faculty, staff, and students — police presence will continue to be greater in both numbers and visibility over the coming days and weeks,” Virjee said.