The man who allegedly made criminal threats against individuals at UC Berkeley last Thursday, leading to widespread anxiety and an hours-long, campus-wide shelter-in-place order, has been identified and charged.
The suspect, according to a statement by UC Police spokesperson Patrol Lt. Sabrina Reich, is 39-year-old Lamar Bursey, a student at the school and a resident of Hayward. Bursey was charged by the Alameda County District Attorney's Office this week with two counts of felony criminal threats, as the East Bay Times reports.
The circumstances surrounding the threat have not been made clear, but we now know that Bursey allegedly sent an email Thursday morning threatening at least two specific UC Berkeley staff members.
The email, which campus police were alerted to at 7:30 a.m. Thursday, read, "I'll be in the office from aprox 9am to 4pm today. Stop playing with me. Depending on who I feel was helping or not, 2 people on this email will get shot. Consider this a promisarry [sic] note you fuck you."
As the Chronicle reports, via the criminal complaint against Bursey, he had been placed on academic suspension for an incident that occurred a week earlier, on April 14, though the specifics of that incident were not given.
Bursey also reportedly wrote in the email that the staff members he was threatening were his "resources," and that he had "slept outside" the night before.
UC Berkeley police subsequently issued a shelter-in-place order at 9:30 a.m. affecting some 193 buildings and tens of thousands of students and faculty, citing a "credible campus-wide threat." This was the first time the university had locked down in such a manner and canceled classes since 1970, when Governor Ronald Reagan closed UC campuses following the protests and subsequent shootings at Kent State University.
Surrounding schools in the city of Berkeley also went into "soft lockdown."
Bursey was arrested at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center around 2 p.m., though it is not clear why he was at the hospital at the time. He is being held in custody, and a plea hearing has been scheduled for May 2.
"The whole affair was poorly handled. Many questions remain unanswered," said William J. Drummond, a professor at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, in an opinion piece for the Chronicle Monday. "There were no updates throughout the incident. People locked in offices, classrooms and labs for hours on end had no idea what was happening."
Professor Drummond adds, "Thursday’s events indicate that UC Berkeley has failed to prepare the campus adequately for the 'active shooter' emergency. Officials have paid way more attention to earthquake preparedness."
Photo: Jeremy Huang