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UCLA Reverts To Remote Learning Following Threats From Former Instructor; Suspect Arrested In Colorado

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — A former UCLA instructor who allegedly posted an alarming video and sent some students and faculty a threatening email -- temporarily forcing the university to revert all its classes Tuesday back to remote learning -- has been taken into custody in Boulder, Colo., following a standoff.

"At this point, we believe the campus is safe," LAPD Chief Michel Moore. "However, we'll continue to work with UCLA and support their decisions relative to campus to operations for the rest of today and into tomorrow."

The suspect is 31-year-old Matthew Christopher Harris, a former instructor in the school's philosophy department. Harris was taken into custody just after 10 a.m. Pacific time following a standoff, Boulder police announced in a news conference.

Crisis negotiators spoke with Harris over the phone during a SWAT standoff. He was taken into custody at his Boulder apartment.

The standoff forced the lockdown or evacuation of nearby Boulder schools, homes and businesses, according to CBS Denver.

The situation unfolded Monday evening after Harris allegedly posted a YouTube video referencing a mass shooting.

"One of the videos was titled 'philosophy department UCLA shooting' along those lines," said Beleh Toma, a freshman at UCLA. "It's him doing a voiceover, you see his face and you see him holding a microphone. On the left he put a video of the Las Vegas shooting that happened, and then on the right, he put a video of the Columbine shooting."

He also allegedly sent an 800-page manifesto making specific threats to people within the philosophy department. The video has since been taken down.

"I can tell you it was very violent, and it was very disturbing," Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold told reporters of the manifesto.

In addition to issuing threats to UCLA students and faculty, Harris also referenced planned instances of violence, including a "schoolyard massacre" in Boulder.

"Upon reviewing parts of the manifesto, we identified thousands of references to violence, stating things such as killing, death, murder, shootings, bombs, schoolyard massacre in Boulder and phrases like burn and attack Boulder outside of the university," said Herold.

According to Herold, Harris attempted to purchase an "unknown handgun" at a store in Colorado's Jefferson County but was denied the purchase

Moore confirmed earlier Tuesday that the FBI had located Harris in Colorado.

"The FBI office in Colorado was working with local municipalities, and has identified and located the individual, and is currently furthering their investigation involving his engagement in this dangerous and reckless criminal threats and activities," Moore said.

Just before midnight Monday, UCLA announced that all classes would be held remotely on Tuesday "out of an abundance of caution." Tuesday morning, the school confirmed that Harris was not in the state of California, and was "under observation."

"Out-of-state law enforcement has confirmed the person who made threats to UCLA is under observation & not in CA," the school tweeted. Classes will remain remote today."

After three weeks of remote instruction to open the winter term because of the COVID-19 surge, UCLA had just returned to in-person learning on Monday.

Some students were caught off guard and were on edge after the university announced their return to remote learning.

"I only figured out about it because my girlfriend who doesn't even go here mentioned something to me. So I would've loved to actually have been notified a little bit more clearly from them," said student Conor Kemp.

Other students were left in fear, especially as mid-term exams quickly approached.

"I know a lot of my friends were really anxious and that kind of made me more scared as well because everyone was stressed out," said student Kimberly Wong. "And it's like mid-term season too so it's like more anxiety."

According to reviews left by students left on a UCLA-specific lecturer-review website, described Harris as "extremely unprofessional" and claimed that the former instructor had sent "personal pornographic content to a student." Another review claimed that many students had complained to the philosophy department about his behavior. According to the campus paper, the Daily Bruin, Harris was put on leave last spring over the pornography allegations but his position as a postdoctoral lecturer was originally set to expire last June.


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