YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsEducation

Man shot dead at UC Berkeley was a student

Campus police say Christopher Travis, 32, transferred this year to the business school. He was shot in a computer lab Tuesday after pointing a weapon at officers.

November 17, 2011|By Larry Gordon, Los Angeles Times
  • UC Berkeley police guard the entrance of the Haas School of Business, where a gunman was killed by officers Tuesday.
UC Berkeley police guard the entrance of the Haas School of Business, where… (Ben Margot / Associated…)

An armed man fatally shot by UC Berkeley police this week was a 32-year-old student at the university, officials said Wednesday. Investigators were looking into reports that the man, identified as Christopher Travis, had demonstrated erratic behavior in the past, including possible suicide attempts.

Travis, an undergraduate who transferred to the UC Berkeley business school this fall, died of his wounds at a hospital, officials said. He was shot by a campus police officer in the school's computer lab Tuesday afternoon after Travis pointed a loaded handgun at officers and refused orders to drop the weapon, authorities said.

Police are reviewing websites on which a man matching Travis' name and description says he was employed as a security guard who worked on "police emergency response" and discusses two suicide attempts, officials said. Police also are in touch with Travis' relatives in Lodi, Calif., and interviewing nine students who were in the lab at the time. A video camera captured at least part of the incident.

"We are looking into everything," including those websites, said UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof.

Police said Travis had a permit for his weapon, a semiautomatic Ruger, that was issued in San Jose. They have not determined a motive.

Campus Police Chief Mitch Celaya told the Daily Californian student newspaper that officers have "some reports that the student was 'not normal' and we're trying to determine what that means."

Attempts to reach Travis' family for comment Wednesday were unsuccessful.

An online resume identified a Christopher Travis enrolled at UC Berkeley's business school as a former security guard who had worked in "coordinating hazmat, medical, and police emergency response" and had transferred to UC from Ohlone College in Fremont, Calif.

A website for a business he reportedly ran describes Travis as a "reformed computer nerd" who had flunked out of college the first time because he skipped class to play computer games. It details a dream: "It was like I had this vision from god and when I woke up, I had discovered the secret to winning at packman. That was when I decided that I have to do something else with my life."

Tuesday's shooting occurred as a large crowd of students and others demonstrated on another part of campus in sympathy with the Occupy Wall Street movement and against tuition increases. Authorities said they have found no connection between Travis and the protests.

UC police responded to a 911 call from a staff member who had noticed Travis with a gun in his backpack. Police say they found Travis in the lab with the other students. No one else was injured.

UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau met Wednesday with faculty, students and staff at the Haas School of Business.

"This is one of the most difficult times we have had as a community," he told them, according to a statement. Birgeneau also offered condolences. "Our heart goes out to the family of this young man," he said.

Los Angeles Times Articles