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Man arrested in Boulder sent threatening email more than a year before his arrest

Matthew Harris used the word "kill" more than 7,500 times in his more than 800-page manifesto, authorities said.

BOULDER, Colo. — More than a year before his arrest in Boulder earlier this week related to threats made to the UCLA campus, a former professor sent emails to his mother threatening to kill a professor at the UC Irvine campus, according to an affidavit in support of his arrest.

Matthew Harris was tracked to Boulder by authorities after he was accused of sending a violent-filled manifesto to about 35 people on the UCLA campus, which prompted the campus to close on Tuesday.

Prior threats 

Harris wrote in a Jan. 21, 2021 email to his mother that he planned to move closer to the UC Irvine campus so that he could hunt the woman, who was also a former acquaintance of his, down and kill her, according to the document.

At the time, Harris' mother did not notify authorities of that email, the document says.

In March of that year, he sent his mother another email saying he was "ready to be dead" but wasn't going to hurt anyone else, according to the document. Again, his mother did not notify authorities, the document says.

RELATED: Man wrote 'burn and attack Boulder' in violent 800-page manifesto, police say

On March 30, 2021, Harris, who was assigned to a research group during the winter quarter at UCLA, was reported to the UCLA Police Department as a subject of concern after he sent about 20 emails to various female students in his research group which contained offensive/inappropriate content, the affidavit says.

Less than a month later, on April 10, 2021, several UCLA Philosophy Department members were forwarded an email from Harris' mother which indicated her son was unwell and had "made disturbing comments about his old colleagues," according to the affidavit.

Two days later, the UCLA Behavioral Intervention Team Coordinator contacted police and detailed a conversation he had with Harris' mother where she relayed that she did not have a good relationship with him, the document says.

She also relayed that he had been sending her strange emails over the past year containing threats to her, her cat and a professor, the document says.

She reported that she had not seen her son in about five years until he showed up at her North Carolina home the week prior. She reported that she was sleeping with a knife next to her and with her cat in her room because she feared what her son might do to them in their sleep, the document says.

RELATED: Former coworker says Denver crime spree suspect threatened him with gun a decade earlier

On April 13, 2021, the professor who was threatened was forwarded the emails sent about her and was "shocked" at the seriousness of the threats and wanted to pursue charges, the affidavit says. The next day, police reached out to Harris' mother and encouraged her to seek an "involuntary commitment" of her son, which she did, the document says.

Harris was then hospitalized for about a month, the affidavit says.

In mid-May 2021, police learned that Harris had plans to fly to California and at that time a Gun Violence Emergency Protective Order was requested for Harris in the state of California.

On June 7, 2021, a three-year Temporary Restraining Order was granted in Los Angeles County which was filed by the University of California Regents, the affidavit says. It barred Harris from California College Campuses and barring him from possessing any weapons.

He was also barred from contacting the professor whom he had threatened, the document says.

Harris moves to Colorado

On Feb. 1, 2022,  Harris' mother spoke with police and told them she had not been in contact with her son for about five months but learned he moved to Colorado sometime in the summer of 2021. She also reported that she was told by his doctors that he had schizophrenia, the document says.

Investigators learned that Harris was issued a Colorado license in November 2021 and had attempted to purchase a firearm at the Silver Bullet Shooting Range in Wheat Ridge. He was, however, denied that purchase as a result of the order put in place previously in California.

Threats to UCLA campus

Around 2 p.m. on Jan. 31, 2022, Harris sent an email to approximately 35 people directing them to a Google Drive containing an 803-page “manifesto” titled “death sentences” by Dr. Matthew C Harris, the affidavit says.

According to the document, he also directed them to his YouTube channel which contained a video called “UCLA PHILOSOPHY (MASS SHOOTING)”. It depicted him talking with images from the 2003 movie Zero Day, which depicts a movie version of the surveillance cameras at the Columbine school shooting, the document says.

Several of the recipients of the email contacted the FBI and as a result of the threats, all in-person Tuesday classes were canceled at UCLA.

On that same day, an agent briefly reviewed the 803-page document and through a word search found the following phrases and terms were mentioned with an "alarming frequency."

  • Kill - approximately 7,512 times
  • Death – approximately 452 times
  • Murder – approximately 253 times
  • Die – approximately 711 times
  • Shoot – approximately 2,514 times
  • Bomb – approximately 2,489 times
  • Blow up – approximately 26 times
  • Stab – approximately 73 times
  • Drown – approximately 19 times
  • Rape – approximately 111 times

The document also lists some quotes from the manifesto which include:

  • Burn and attack Boulder outside by the university
  • Hunt them where they work. Find out when they will have company gatherings or university welcomings. Kill their children at freshman orientation. Shoot them at the opening weekend.
  • Bombs at middle schools, no threats. Shot gun columbine university slaying.
  • Kill the board of trustees at every university.

Investigators did an emergency ping on Harris' cell phone on Jan. 31 and learned he was in Boulder. On that afternoon, CU Police responded to Harris' address and briefly saw him exit his residence yelling profanities and appearing to be highly agitated, the affidavit says.

Officers briefly lost visual sight of Harris, but then heard more yelling coming from his apartment. He spoke with an officer through his door around 1:30 a.m. but refused to come out, the document says.

Harris' arrest

The Boulder regional SWAT was activated just before 8 a.m. on Feb. 1 as officers attempted to contact Harris in the 900 block of Broadway.

The Boulder Valley School District said around 8:10 a.m. that University Hill Elementary was placed on a secure perimeter but eventually students were moved to the Boulder Valley School District Education Center to be picked up.

Watch his arrest below:

Police said nearby University of Colorado Boulder fraternity and sorority homes were evacuated and shelter-in-place orders were sent to about 65 homes in the immediate area. 

Harris was taken into custody around 11 a.m. that morning without incident and all shelter-in-place orders were lifted.

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