UC Police Dept. officers arrested a UCSB student Thursday, March 23 after he threatened to kill his classmates during a final exam.
The student, an underclassman whose name was not released, had been acting strangely for about 15 minutes before he walked around the lecture hall and began threatening fellow students during a Math 34A: Calculus for Social and Life Sciences final exam in Girvetz Hall 1004, said Carlos Martinez, a third-year psychology major who was taking the exam at the time. The student was unarmed, but his threats caused students to call police and evacuate the building. UCPD representatives could not be reached last week for further information on the suspect.
“He went around to the other side [of the lecture hall] and tugged at a guy’s sweatshirt and said, ‘Come with me or else everyone is going to die – I’m going to kill everyone,'” Martinez said.
UCPD Detective Sgt. Dan Massey said the student violently threatened his classmates and professor and began reading a religious passage from his blue book.
The student turned in his exam to the class’s professor, Azer Akhmedov. Jennifer Karasik, a third-year business economics major, said the man then ripped it from Akhmedov’s hands and began reading answers aloud to the class – answers completely unrelated to the questions on the calculus exam.
“He started reading answers to questions even though they were not right,” Karasik said. “He was reading about sacrificing a virgin’s blood.”
Karasik said the student also read something concerning God, but she did not comprehend what he had said.
“We were all shaken up, so we heard some things and not others,” she said.
Karasik said the student also demanded that a female classmate leave with him, but this was before he approached the male student and before he threatened to kill the other students.
Karasik and Martinez both said the student had been exhibiting odd behavior from the start of the exam. The student had been belching loudly and asked a female student sitting near him for her water bottle, which she gave him. Massey said the man also chose to sit on the floor, rather than at a desk, while taking the test and had been wearing shoes that did not match.
Karasik and Martinez said the student had a large boil on his forehead, and was mostly pale yet red in the face. When students complained about the student’s loud belching, Martinez said, he angrily yelled, “I’m really sick.”
“He was either on an upper or alcohol poisoning or something,” Martinez said.
Karasik and Martinez said they felt “sick to their stomachs” during the ordeal, as did many other students.
“Some girl freaked out so much she ran out of the room crying and vomited,” Karasik said.
Akhmedov tried to calm everyone, including the student threatening violence, and keep the students in their seats, Massey said. However, the student threatening violence told everyone to leave, at which point the students filed out of the classroom and several of them used their cell phones to call the police, Karasik said.
When three officers and one detective arrived, they found the students outside and the student who had threatened the class sitting calmly at a table talking to his roommate, Massey said.
“He said his roommate was the only one he could trust,” Massey said.
Police officers removed the student from the immediate area, talked to him and determined that he needed to be handcuffed for safety reasons, Massey said. The student was taken away and is currently undergoing psychiatric evaluation.
“He was exhibiting behavior that suggested he had mental health problems,” Massey said. “Based on his behavior, he was viewed as a threat.”
Many students took their exams with them and started working in groups outside.
“Everyone was outside,” Karasik said. “[Some people were] sitting under the Arbor table umbrellas doing the final [together], thinking they could get away with it, while people were throwing up and crying and shaking and calling family and friends, taking pictures.”
After the man was arrested, a group of about 25 students walked back inside Girvetz 1004 to finish the exam, Martinez said, but one of the class’s teaching assistants told students to stop working on the final because it would have to be rescheduled.
“Even if we could finish the final [right then], some people couldn’t because they were so shaken up,” Martinez said.
Later in the morning on Thursday, March 23, Martinez said he spoke to Akhmedov, who said the final exam would be held Friday, March 24 from 8 to 11 a.m. and again today, April 3.