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UC Berkeley officials identify student in shooting

November 16, 2011 |  2:04 pm

UC Berkeley shooting
The man who police say brandished a weapon at UC Berkeley’s business school and was fatally shot Tuesday by campus police was identified Wednesday as Christopher Travis, 32, an undergraduate transfer student. Authorities said they are investigating reports that he may have acted erratically in the past.

Campus officials announced that Travis, who was conscious after being shot, had died at Highland Hospital, where he had undergone surgery. The incident came as UC Berkeley students held a large demonstration in sympathy with the Occupy Wall Street movement and against tuition increases.

An online resume for a Christopher Travis starting at Berkeley business school this year said he was  a former security guard who had worked in “coordinating hazmat, medical, and police emergency response” and had transferred to UC from Ohlone College in the East Bay area. A website for a business he reportedly ran to help other people set up websites and motivate them to success describes him as a “reformed computer nerd.”

UC Berkeley police interviewed about 17 witnesses and will conduct more interviews, campus Police Chief Mitch Celaya told the Daily Californian student newspaper. “We have some reports that the student was ‘not normal’ and we’re trying to determine what that means — these are just comments that are being made,” he said. A web camera also captured at least portions of the incident, officials added.

Authorities said they have found no connection between the alleged gunman and the campus protests. “At this point there is no evidence whatsoever, zero, that this is anything other than an isolated incident,” UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof said Wednesday.

He said university policy did not allow the release of personal information about Travis other than to confirm that he was a transfer student who began the business program this fall and that his family in the Central Valley has been notified of his death.

Despite a ban on encampments, about 15 tents remained Wednesday in the campus’ Sproul Plaza, scene of many historic protests over the decades. Mogulof said campus police were so busy in the aftermath of the shooting that they were not immediately moving to evict the campers but he said it would be done at some point.

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 released. He thanked staff and campus police for their alertness and quick response and offered condolences about the death. “Our heart goes out to the family of this young man,” he said.

The shooting occurred about 2:25 p.m. Tuesday, according to police. University police were responding to a 911 call from a staff member who had noticed the suspect with a gun in his backpack. UC Berkeley police found Travis in a computer lab with several other students. One of the responding officers shot him after he pointed his gun at police, who had ordered him several times to drop the weapon, officials said. Other officers made sure that witnesses and bystanders were not in the line of fire and were removed from the immediate area.

The handgun was real and was loaded, Mogulof emphasized Wednesday.


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Photo: A University Police officer stands guard outside of Haas School of Business on the campus of University of California Berkeley after a shooting on Tuesday. Credit: Terry Chea / Associated Press