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Ex-UCLA lecturer accused of making threats pleads not guilty

ucla threats boulder matthew harris
Posted at 5:33 PM, Feb 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-23 19:33:11-05

DENVER (AP) — A former lecturer at the University of California, Los Angeles has pleaded not guilty to allegations that he sent emails and posted videos threatening violence against the school.

One of Matthew Harris' lawyers entered the plea on his behalf during a brief hearing in Denver federal court on Wednesday. It came a day after a grand jury indicted him for the alleged threats, as well as weapons violations.

Harris' new lawyers didn't argue against prosecutors' request that he continue to be held behind bars. They also declined to comment on the allegations, saying it was too early in the case.

On Jan. 31 around 2 p.m. MT, according to the arrest affidavit, Harris sent an email to 35 people containing an 800-page manifesto he called “death sentences” and links to videos on his YouTube channel, which included a video called “UCLA PHILOSOPHY (MASS SHOOTING)”.

Several people who received the email and reported it to the FBI. The manifesto “outlined Harris’ hatred for various entities,” the affidavit says, and made vulgar references to killing white people, Jewish people and Asian people, members of Congress and more. The threats named several philosophy faculty members and former students at UCLA.

He also made references to the Columbine High School shooting, Jon Benet Ramsey and Boulder.

“Set fire in the woods near mansions or gated communities. … Do it in Boulder Colorado. Do it everywhere rich cr---ers live. Even if they have insurance they’ll be horrified as they watch their mansion and wealth become a target for violence,” read one passage, according to the affidavit.

“Kill the fathers of Boulder high school,” read another part of it.

The FBI and police pinged Harris’s phone Jan. 31 and found he was in Boulder at an apartment at 955 Broadway. UCLA police warned University of Colorado police about the threats, and investigators watched and spoke with him into the early-morning hours of Feb. 1.

Just before 3 a.m. on Feb. 1, one of the women whom Harris had been sending emails to got another email with more threats.

Boulder Regional SWAT was brought in to help, and nearby schools, homes and businesses were evacuated in the area, including University Hill Elementary.