WESTWOOD—A former UCLA postdoctoral lecturer is in custody following an investigation into alleged violent threats made in a video and in an 800-page manifesto, targeting students and faculty at the UCLA Department of Philosophy. The suspect, identified as Matthew Harris, 31, was taken into custody by Colorado police on Tuesday, February 1, after a three-hour barricade outside of his apartment in Boulder, The Los Angeles Times first reported.
Harris uploaded a video to YouTube on January 30 titled “UCLA PHILOSOPHY (MASS SHOOTING)” and emailed it, with the manifesto to faculty members and students. Upon review, the threats outlined in the video and throughout the manifesto “made thousands of references to violence, stating things such as killing, death, murder, shootings, bombs, and schoolyard massacres,” noted Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold. The manifesto was “very violent, very disturbing” and included references to Boulder universities and schoolyards as well, Herold said.
By January 31, UCLA alerted local and out-of-state law enforcement about the emails. Students were notified that classes would be held remotely on February 1, until Harris’s location was determined. By 8 a.m. on February 1, the Boulder Police Department SWAT team were deployed and they evacuated nearby elementary schools and some fraternities and sororities at the University of Colorado Boulder. Authorities confirmed Harris was in police custody by 11:07 a.m.
Harris was hired as a lecturer in the philosophy department at UCLA back in Spring 2019. During his tenure, he taught courses such as “Philosophy of Race.” Some students made complaints to the department that his behavior was inappropriate, the Santa Monica Daily Press reported. Harris was put on leave in spring 2021 for reportedly sending a video containing pornographic content to a student. Investigations are underway in regard to his ties to Colorado.