Elite law school cancels in-person class amid mass shooting threat

(Photo by MARK RALSTON/AFP via Getty Images)

All classes at UCLA Law School and the rest of the university will be held online after former lecturer and postdoctoral fellow Matthew Harris posted a video referencing a mass shooting and uttering specific threats against members of the philosophy department. As the Los Angeles Times reported, a unified response from the university was lacking, with different departments canceling today’s in-person classes at different times – and long after Harris’ video and manifesto circulated on social networks.

Associate Dean David Marcus sent out an email (available in full below) letting people know that in an “abundance of caution” law school classes will be virtual today. But as one tipster reports, the answer took a while:

The person who made the threat referred to specific members of UCLA’s philosophy department, located in Dodd Hall. The law school shares a courtyard with Dodd Hall and there are law school offices in this building. The students were aware and terrified of this threat for hours and we received no information or acknowledgment of the threat from the administrator until the SBA emailed the administrator.

The Times describes the disturbing documents Harris sent to members of UCLA’s philosophy department and posted online:

A video titled “UCLA PHILOSOPHY (MASS SHOOTING)” was released on Sunday and contained disturbing footage, including footage from the 2017 mass shooting at a Las Vegas music festival and clips from the 2003 film “Zero Day”, which is loosely based on the Columbine Mass Shooting in high school.

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

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

“War is coming,” he wrote. “before say [expletive] to our golden-headed Caucasian princess.

Harris was placed on administrative leave by the university last year as the school investigated allegations that he sent pornographic material to a student.

A university spokesman, Steve Ritea, said university police are aware of “a concerning email and post sent to certain members of the UCLA community today and are actively engaged with law enforcement and federal agencies out of state.”

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Kathryn Rubino is an editor at Above the Law, host of The Jabot podcast and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. AtL’s tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions or comments and follow her on Twitter (@Kathryn1).

Nancy I. Romero