A UC Berkeley student is facing felony charges after allegedly emailing threats of violence to multiple campus faculty members, spurring Thursday’s shelter-in-place order.
The District Attorney levied charges against Lamar Bursey on April 25, four days after the lockdown, according to UCPD spokesperson Lt. Sabrina Reich. The court documents stated that two members of campus faculty felt their lives were directly threatened, which resulted in two counts of felony criminal threats.
According to the District Attorney’s Office, Bursey is still under police custody. He is scheduled for a hearing on May 2 in Wiley Manuel Courthouse, where he will either plead guilty or not guilty.
Joe Breyer, Bursey’s public defender, said he hopes his client’s mental health history is considered in the court proceedings.
“The punishment could include years in state prison,” Breyer said. “However, we are hopeful that everyone will realize that this is more of a mental health problem than it is a criminal problem.”
Bursey was also placed on academic suspension from campus for an unknown incident that took place on April 14, according to District Attorney court documents.
On April 21, he allegedly sent out an email to multiple campus staff members that contained threats of violence, the documents read. The documents add that campus workers feared for their safety.
“UCPD learned that an individual affiliated with the university had issued serious and credible threats of violence towards other, specific individuals who work at the university,” Reich said in an email. “As a result, a decision was made to take necessary precautions as officers prepared to search and secure the campus.”
Campus police located Bursey at the Summit Hospital in Oakland later that day, where he was taken into custody without incident.
Breyer noted Bursey has overcome a great deal of adversity in his life, among them a history of mental illness. He stated that enrolling in UC Berkeley was a great source of pride for Bursey.
“We’re hopeful that everybody will be in agreement that it is in Bursey’s and the community’s best interest that he gets the help that he needs,” Breyer said.