Posted on February 2, 2022

Former UCLA Lecturer in Custody Threatened to Kill Female Professor

Richard Winton et al., Los Angeles Times, January 31, 2022

A former UCLA lecturer taken into custody Tuesday by Colorado police after allegedly sending campus members a video referencing a mass shooting had threatened to hunt down and kill a University of California professor last year and was subsequently barred from going near her, according to court documents.

Matthew Harris, who was let go by UCLA last year following widespread complaints about his behavior as a postdoctoral fellow in philosophy, emailed his mother twice in January 2021 that he planned to shoot the professor with an MP5 submachine gun “for giving me schizophrenia,” the Los Angeles County Superior Court documents said. His mother warned the professor in April, sharing the emails that were forwarded to UCLA, according to court documents.

Matthew Harris

Matthew Harris

The UC system sought a workplace restraining order in May to bar Harris from going near the professor, sending her emails, leaving voicemails or entering any UC campus. In the court filing, a UCLA attorney noted that Harris had “steadily escalated from reported incidents of conduct with students involving graphic materials of a sexual and violent nature which resulting in him being placed on investigatory leave … to now outright death threats to petitioner’s employee.”

In June, L.A. Superior Court Judge David Swift issued a three-year restraining order against Harris.

Harris was taken into custody peacefully at 11:07 a.m. after a three-hour-long barricade at his apartment, Boulder police said. Officials said his manifesto contained references to Boulder “in a university and schoolyard setting.”

“The level of violence we saw in the manifesto was obviously alarming,” said Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold. “It was very violent and it was very disturbing.”


Federal charges against Harris are pending, county prosecutors said.


In the January 2021 emails Harris sent his mother, he compared himself to the shooter who massacred 26 people, most of them children, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in 2012 and Christopher Dorner, a former LAPD officer who killed four people and wounded three others in a series of Southern California shootings in 2013.

The UC professor he threatened to shoot first met Harris at another university in 2013. Harris reached out to her again for career advice in September 2020 but after increasingly aggressive emails, the professor began to fear for her safety and asked him to stop contacting her in March, according to court documents.

Harris’ mother forwarded the professor the violent emails in April, saying she “felt physically ill reading them.” The mother also wrote: “I’m sorry to drop all this on you out of the blue, I only know I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I did nothing and someone got hurt,” the court documents said.

In May, a Los Angeles judge granted a restraining order that forbids Harris from possessing firearms, a separate order from the one involving workplace violence. The court order noted that he threatened to murder a former colleague with an MP5 submachine gun and had referenced past active shooters.

That order placed Harris in a national database of those not allowed to purchase or possess a firearm, triggering denial of his attempt to buy a firearm in Colorado in November.

On Sunday, Harris sent an email just before 1 a.m. to his former students, replete with racist slurs against Jewish and East Asian people. {snip}


Harris’ YouTube channel contained more than 300 videos, the majority of which were uploaded Monday. {snip}

A video titled “UCLA PHILOSOPHY (MASS SHOOTING)” was posted Sunday and contained disturbing imagery, including footage of the 2017 mass shooting at a Las Vegas music festival and clips from the 2003 movie “Zero Day,” which is loosely based on the Columbine High School mass shooting.

In several videos, Harris makes racist comments. {snip}


The Times obtained a partial copy of Harris’ email to the UCLA philosophy department.

He makes references to race and uses several profanities. He included links to his manifesto and videos, including the video that appeared to threaten a mass shooting.

“da war is comin,” he wrote. “forward dis [expletive] to our tha goldhead caucasoid princess.”

In reviews left on, a site where students can post anonymous reviews of professors and other staff members, two students described Harris’ disturbing and erratic behavior as a lecturer.


A philosophy department newsletter from spring 2019 stated Harris would join the university as a postdoctoral fellow in philosophy after completing his dissertation at Duke University.

“He works on philosophy of race, personal identity, and related issues in philosophy of mind,” the newsletter stated.

Harris was placed on leave last year while campus officials investigated reports that he sent a video with pornographic content to a student, according to the Daily Bruin. His term as a postdoctoral fellow was set to end in June.