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Former UCLA lecturer to face federal charge for shooting threats

By Genesis Qu and Maanas Hemanth Oruganti

Feb. 3, 2022 3:56 p.m.

The FBI charged Matthew Harris, the former UCLA philosophy researcher taken into custody earlier this week, on Tuesday with making threats across state lines to harm or kidnap. 

Harris is scheduled to appear in a Denver court Thursday, according to court documents and a statement from Laura Eimiller, an FBI spokesperson for the Los Angeles field office.

[Related: UCPD continues investigation, UCLA confirms former researcher is in custody]

Harris could face up to five years in prison and fines under the government’s charges. 

Harris, a former UCLA postdoctoral philosophy researcher and lecturer, sent several emails Monday to multiple UCLA students, alumni and faculty members threatening a mass shooting on campus. Harris was taken into custody Tuesday by Colorado authorities. 

UCLA students and a former Duke University classmate, however, reported that Harris exhibited disturbing behavior months before the recent incident.

Laurie Levenson, a UCLA Law alumnus who is also a law professor at Loyola Law School, said she believes Tuesday’s criminal complaint is an initial charge against Harris that aims to secure an arrest warrant against him. 

She said she expects the government to bring more formal charges through grand jury indictments in the next two weeks. The government may consider additional charges through statutes prohibiting the use of weapons of mass destruction or hate crime laws, she added. 

However, Levenson said Harris’ lawyer may bring up issues of mental competency to the court, which would put a hold on the criminal case in order to formally examine Harris’ mental state. 

This story is developing and will be updated.

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Genesis Qu | Alumnus
Qu was the 2021-2022 Editor in chief. He was previously the 2020-2021 campus politics editor and a contributor for The Stack. He studied statistics and political science at UCLA.
Qu was the 2021-2022 Editor in chief. He was previously the 2020-2021 campus politics editor and a contributor for The Stack. He studied statistics and political science at UCLA.
Oruganti was the 2021-2022 city and crime editor. He was also the 2020-2021 Enterprise editor and a News staff writer in the City & Crime and Science & Health beats 2020. He was also a fourth-year cognitive science student at UCLA.
Oruganti was the 2021-2022 city and crime editor. He was also the 2020-2021 Enterprise editor and a News staff writer in the City & Crime and Science & Health beats 2020. He was also a fourth-year cognitive science student at UCLA.
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