LOS ANGELES - A former UCLA lecturer who allegedly posted a threatening video on social media, prompting the university to cancel in-person classes Tuesday, was taken into custody in Colorado, according to officials
Matthew Harris, a former postdoctoral fellow, posted the video and an 800-page manifesto making "specific threats" to people in the university's philosophy department, resulting in the school's decision Monday to cancel in-person classes.
Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore told the city Police Commission Tuesday morning that the FBI had located in Colorado.
"The department worked closely with UCLA Police Department and the FBI to quickly identify and locate this individual we believe responsible for those posts and potentially planning for a mass violence or shooting event at UCLA," said Moore, who added that the agencies were working to determine if the threat is credible.
"At this point, we believe the campus is safe," Moore said.
Harris was taken into custody late Tuesday morning in Boulder, Colorado, following a standoff with police that prompted the evacuation of an elementary school. Police also issued a shelter-in-place warning for residents in the area as law enforcement swarmed the area.
UCLA philosophy students received an email Monday stating that Harris had made "specific threats" to people in the department and posted a video on social media titled "UCLA Philosophy Mass Shooting," the Los Angeles Times reported.
"In light of this, we will continue to have a discussion through Zoom until the authorities say that it is safe. I will keep you updated on this situation. But I would avoid being anywhere near Dodd Hall or the philosophy department until further notice," the email states.
Late Monday, UCLA announced that university police were "aware of a concerning email and posting sent to some members of the UCLA community today (Monday) and actively engaged with out-of-state law enforcement and federal agencies."
In the video, Harris makes references to race and uses several profanities, according to The Times. He included links to his manifesto and videos, including the video threatening a mass shooting.
"da war is comin," he wrote. "forward dis (expletive) to our tha goldhead caucasoid princess."
The university on Tuesday made counseling services available to students and staff in response to the threat. Students in need of the services were asked to call 310-825-0768, and faculty/staff can call 310-794-0245.
Two of the school's academic leaders – Suzanne L. Seplow and Mick Deluca – issued a joint statement following the news of Harris' arrest and offered counseling for students. The two announced that in-person classes will return Wednesday.
Below is the statement issued by Seplow and Deluca:
According to the campus newspaper, the Daily Bruin, Harris was put on leave last spring over allegations that he sent pornographic material to a student, but his position as a postdoctoral lecturer was originally set to expire in June 2021.
UCLA students are protesting Tuesday night and possibly into Wednesday morning as some claim the school was slow in responding to Harris' alleged threats.
Although classes are back to normal Wednesday, some students are upset with the way the university handled the situation. Some UCLA students accused the university of ignoring some of Harris' warning signs.
"They’ve known about this for months, what were they waiting for?" said student Simone Anderson.
Anderson is part of a delegation that happened to meet with Vice Chancellor Michael Beck on Monday over a different matter. Anderson said she and other students' phones began "blowing up" with messages from concerned Bruins who had read on social media about Harris' alleged threats.
Student body president Breeze Velazquez interrupted the meeting, Anderson said, to ask Beck about the threats and was "shocked" to hear him tell them they’d been keeping their eye on this guy "for months" and they were well aware of the threats.
It wasn’t until late at night that students got a formal UCLA message notifying them that classes would be held only online as a precaution.
Velazquez, who explains they have been holding a protest sitting outside the Chancellor’s office, says this is one more issue to add to their complaints. The students see this as the latest in a series of actions showing a lack of concern for students.
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