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UCLA switches to remote learning after mass shooting threat; suspect in custody

Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The University of California, Los Angeles, canceled classes and switched entirely to online learning Tuesday after a person made threats of a possible shooting. The suspect is now in custody in Colorado, according to the school.

"We are greatly relieved to share that law enforcement officers in Colorado have taken into custody the individual who made threats against some members of our UCLA community yesterday," school officials told students in an email.

UCLA announced Monday that all classes on Tuesday would be held remotely after the school received a "concerning email and posting."

The Daily Bruin reported that an 800-page manifesto was sent to faculty and some students by Matthew Harris, a former lecturer and postdoctoral fellow, who also posted a video referring to mass shootings. The manifesto contained threats made against members of the university's philosophy department, according to the university paper. The Los Angeles Times, which obtained a copy of Harris' email, reported that he made several references to race and used numerous profanities.

The video, posted to YouTube, was titled, "UCLA PHILOSOPHY (MASS SHOOTING)" and has since been taken down. The video reportedly featured references to the 2017 mass shooting incident at a music festival in Las Vegas.

According to the Daily Bruin, before Harris was apprehended, faculty from the philosophy department had advised that in-person classes be canceled until his location was determined.

Los Angeles County police said they partnered with the FBI to investigate the threats. The FBI's Los Angeles field office told USA Today agents were working with UCLA "to assess the situation."

UCLA spokesman Bill Kisliuk said Tuesday morning that out-of-state law enforcement agencies confirmed Harris was not in California and that he was being monitored. He was taken into custody by police in Colorado later that day, UCLA said.

"While the campus will continue with plans to keep instruction remote today, with this development, we will return to in-person instruction tomorrow," the school told students.

Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said Tuesday that UCLA's campus is safe. According to the L.A. Times, he also said the department's mental evaluation unit had previous contact with the suspect in the spring of 2021.

The LAPD told the Times that Harris currently lives in Boulder, Colorado, and the paper reported he had been taken into custody there.

While at UCLA, Harris was a lecturer for multiple courses, including Philosophy 168: "Philosophy of Race."

Reviews on buinwalk.com, a website where students can post anonymous reviews of professors and other UCLA faculty, described Harris' disturbing behavior as a teacher.

One review said Harris was "extremely unprofessional and has sent his personal p*rnographic content to a student."

Another described his class as "my least favorite class at ucla ever" and claimed multiple students complained to the department about his unreasonable demands.

The Daily Bruin reported that Harris was placed on leave last spring while campus officials investigated allegations that he sent a video with pornographic content to a student. His postdoctoral fellowship was set to end in June 2021.

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