UCPD responded to an incident of a UC Berkeley student yelling verbal threats in the Valley Life Sciences Building, or VLSB, on Feb. 1. UCPD Lt. Nicholas Hernandez said the student was in a mental health crisis and left the area upon investigation.
Students who heard the threats and were in the building expressed concerns about inadequate active-shooter preparedness.
According to a campus senior, who requested anonymity due to personal safety concerns, the individual yelled “prepare to die.” The student, who was in a class in VLSB, said students quickly went under desks for protection and eventually ran out of the building.
“We thought we were gonna die,” the student said. “Someone went to lock the door, but there was no lock, which is a problem. It was very scary to be just like a sitting duck with no lock.”
Maya Banuelos, a Daily Californian staff member who was in the class during the incident, also expressed that functional locks on doors are a “bare minimum,” adding that, given the uncertainty surrounding the lockdown protocols, one would just have to “pray that we’re lucky.”
Banuelos noted that another nearby class had also evacuated the building.
Campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore noted that the classrooms in question were fitted with a classroom lock, which is standard for campus general assignment classrooms, and requires a key to unlock or lock the doors.
“This works well in normal conditions but does pose problems during a situation like an active shooter,” Gilmore said in an email. “The campus is looking into options to address this.”
Professor of Media Studies Matthew Berry sent an announcement to students in his Media Theories and Processes class providing updates from UCPD Officer Armando Diaz on the situation, stating that the individual had caused “minor disturbances” prior to the incident.
Berry added in the message that Diaz said Wednesday’s disturbance was more egregious in nature and UCPD is looking to make an arrest. Berry noted that he tried to change classrooms after the incident but none were available, according to the message.
Veronica Roseborough, another Daily Californian staff member who was in the class and heard the yelling, expressed similar frustration, noting that the students had “no way to really protect” themselves.
Banuelos alleged that the GSI who was teaching the class said he was unaware of any instruction as to what to do in that situation, noting that her classmates were “pretty rattled” and that she too had been in “shock.”
“We thought we were going to be harmed in the moment,” Banuelos said. “More should be done by campus to support the students who were affected by this.”
Sgt. Jacob Westlie said in an email that groups can schedule meetings or events with UCPD officers, who will provide safety and security information as needed. Westlie added that UCPD continuously trains its officers on best practices for active shooter situations.
Furthermore, Gilmore noted that campus is actively re-building the Emergency Operations Center, or EOC, to better handle intruder emergencies, including a new space for the EOC in Warren Hall, as well as an enhanced EOC training and staffing plan and building security systems.
Additionally, Gilmore stated campus is bringing consultants to help complete a hazards vulnerability assessment in an attempt to document the potential dangers campus could be exposed to and develop plans to mitigate these hazards.
“I’m really frustrated and scared of the possibility that this happens in the future on a more dangerous level,” Banuelos said. “More should be done by the campus to support the students who were affected by this.”