A 39-year-old student in a UC Berkeley program for formerly incarcerated people threatened to shoot at least two staff members last week after he was suspended from school, court records show.
The threats, which police say appeared in an April 21 email to UC Berkeley staff members, prompted a campus-wide lockdown on Thursday.
On Monday, the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office charged Hayward’s Lamar Bursey with two counts of criminally threatening two UC staff members.
According to court and UCPD records, Bursey had been suspended from college after causing a disturbance on campus on the morning of April 14 at the Valley Life Science Building and the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union.
Few details of the incident have been released, but the UCPD said Bursey threatened a UC Berkeley staff member that day.
Last week, authorities say, the situation escalated when Bursey sent an email shortly before 6 a.m. saying he would be coming to the office that day.
“Stop messing with me,” he wrote, according to court documents. “Depending on who I think was helping or not, 2 people on that email will get shot.
The UCPD said one of the people who received the email “was in fear for his life and the lives of others”. He told his boss that he would not return to campus until the situation was resolved.
Another staff member was also concerned, according to court records: ‘Another victim thought she would be shot by BURSEY if she came to work. Out of fear for her safety, she stayed home after work.
UC Berkeley closed the campus, canceled classes and advised community members not to go out while authorities tried to find Bursey.
He was located at Summit Hospital in Oakland and “arrested without incident,” according to court records. Authorities did not share details on how he was found or why he was in hospital.
Bursey is still being held in Santa Rita Jail and is scheduled to appear for a plea hearing on May 2, according to court records. No deposit amount is indicated.
“The safety of the campus community was our top priority throughout this incident,” UCPD Lt. Sabrina Reich said Wednesday in Berkeleyside. “Thanks to the efforts of our officers and other campus coordination units, we were able to safely resolve the situation with no injuries.”
Bursey was a transfer student in UC Berkeley’s Underground Scholars program, according to a 2021 study of worker-led research he contributed to. When the study was published last year, he was a second-year transfer student majoring in sociology.
He has also “worked as Outreach Coordinator and Deputy Board Director for Reentry Services” and “has experience in retail, sales and warehouse operations,” according to his bio. in the report.
UC Berkeley had removed Bursey’s biography from his website – as well as the biographies of other “ambassadors” of the program – from this week.
As described by UC Berkeley, the Clandestine Scholars Program aims to build a “prison-to-college pipeline through recruitment, retention and advocacy”.
The UC Berkeley Chancellor’s Independent Advisory Board on Police Accountability and Community Safety is scheduled to hold a forum at 5 p.m. Wednesday on the events of the past week.
Featured photo credit: Jérôme Paulos