US university moves classes online after mass shooting threat

A screenshot from a video posted online that is said to show the arrest of former UCLA lecturer Matthew Harris in Colorado. SCREENSHOT: TWITTER

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - A major US university moved its classes online on Tuesday (Feb 1) after a former philosophy lecturer posted a video apparently threatening a mass shooting on campus.

UCLA in Los Angeles told its 44,500-strong student body that classes would be held remotely after Matthew Harris put an 800-page screed and video on the Internet.

Harris was arrested in Boulder, Colorado, police chief Maris Herold told reporters.

“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,” she said.

“The level of violence that we saw in the manifesto was obviously so alarming. We have not made connections yet across states, and that’s why we have federal partners looking at this as well. But I can tell you it’s very violent, very disturbing.”

According to the Daily Bruin, a newspaper published by UCLA students, university police began investigating Harris after he sent messages to several individuals in the philosophy department.

These included a link to a video entitled “Philosophy UCLA (Mass Shooting)” as well as an 800-page diatribe containing threats.

Harris had been placed on administrative leave last year after being accused of sending a video with pornographic content to a student, the Daily Bruin reported.

Mass shootings, particularly in schools, shopping malls and places of worship, are a recurring problem in the United States that successive governments have failed to curb.

Despite a majority of the US public being in favor of stricter gun control rules, attempts to limit access to firearms are regularly stymied by a powerful gun lobby, which cites a constitutional right to bear arms.

Gun violence claimed more than 44,000 lives in 2021, including suicides, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

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