Man suspected of making violent threats against Boulder and California schools has been charged

UCLA Threats
David Zalubowski/AP Photo
A police officer escorts people past a police line in front of University Hill Elementary School across from the campus of the University of Colorado after a man accused of making mass shooting threats against the college as well as the University of California, Los Angeles, was arrested Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022, in Boulder, Colo. The police operation caused the evacuation of the elementary school and shelter-in-place orders for nearby residents on Boulder’s University Hill.

Updated Friday, Feb. 4, 8:02 p.m.

The man arrested and accused of threatening violence against CU Boulder and UCLA earlier this week was charged with transmission of threats in interstate commerce.

A federal judge held 31-year-old Matthew Christopher Harris without bail in Denver.

Harris is a former philosophy professor at UCLA. He was put on leave last year when he sent inappropriate content to students.

He also threatened a professor at the University of California Irvine.

Harris is scheduled to return to court Tuesday.

Our original story continues below.

A 31-year-old man living in Boulder was taken into custody after officials connected him to an 800-page manifesto that included depictions of death, murder, shootings and schoolyard massacres in Boulder and in California.

Matthew Christopher Harris, a former employee at the University of California Los Angeles, is being held in federal custody after he surrendered to law enforcement at 11:07 a.m. Tuesday.

Boulder Police evacuated a nearby elementary school, several businesses and residents and sent a reverse 911 message to 65 homes, asking people to shelter in place Tuesday morning during the hours the police were communicating with the suspect, Chief Maris Herold said.

Officials received word from California and federal law enforcement officials Monday night about Harris and threats he had made against the University of California. 

“The level of violence we saw in the manifesto was obviously so alarming,” Herold said. “It was very violent and it was very disturbing. There were definitely references to Boulder.”

They tracked Harris to a Boulder apartment and deployed SWAT officers this morning. Negotiators talked to him via phone for several hours before he turned himself in. Boulder police said he left his apartment peacefully.

Harris attempted to buy a handgun in Jefferson County on Nov. 2 but was denied the purchase because of a protection order issued in California, said Boulder District Attorney Michael Dougherty.

Officials declined to say what connections Harris had to Boulder, but police said they did make contact with him in the fall. However, that did not end in criminal charges.

“I recognize today was a scary day for the people of Boulder,” Dougherty told reporters on Tuesday. “This happened very quickly and it couldn’t have been done without the Boulder Police Department and the strong federal relationships they maintain.”

The man will face federal charges because he made threats against people in two states.

“We are sensitive in the United States Attorney’s office to all that this community has endured, not only in the past year, but in the past month,” said U.S. Attorney Cole Finegan, at a press briefing in Boulder. “You have my full commitment that we will remain engaged.”

Harris’ apartment, near the University of Colorado, is being searched in Boulder and police warned there may be road closures around the area.