BERKELEY -- Christopher Travis was a dropout with no ambition, spending most of his time playing computer games and eventually attempting suicide by swallowing pills.
However, about five years ago he turned his life around, landing a job as a security officer. After working his way to a supervisory role, he returned to school, recently transferring to the prestigious Haas School of Business.
Tuesday afternoon, only a couple months into working on his business administration degree with a concentration in global management, the 32-year-old Berkeley motivational speaker walked into a campus computer lab with a loaded pistol, pointed it at four officers and was shot to death in front of horrified classmates. It was the first on-campus, officer-involved shooting at UC Berkeley in two decades.
Travis' complicated life story plays out in witness accounts and various online links, including a video, blog post and résumé.
"My name is Chris Travis and I like to call myself a reformed computer nerd," Travis wrote Aug. 31 in a blog entry on his company's home page. "I call myself this because when I grew up, all I did was play computer games. I even flunked out of college the first time because I would skip class in order to play computer games in the dorms. However, one night I had this dream. It was like I had this vision from god and when I woke up, I had discovered the secret to winning at packman (sic). That was when I decided
Travis created the Forbisher Group in April, where he worked as an independent certified coach, teacher and speaker, helping clients with leadership skills.
Travis' landlord, who rented him a room in a house a couple of blocks from the business school, said he mysteriously moved out the weekend before Halloween after only four months.
When she asked him where he was moving, "he just pointed that way," she said, declining to give her name.
She remembered him as "quiet and reserved" and often gone at night.
Newark Planning Commissioner William Fitts, who knew Travis from his Toastmasters speaking group, was shocked when he learned of his death.
"That is very sad. It's hard to believe," Fitts said. "He was very engaging. He was a standup guy. He seemed pretty normal to me. There was nothing I knew about him that indicated something like this was possible."
Visiting Travis' LinkedIn page and his company website also gives the appearance of someone who had turned his life around.
Travis posted a video April 16 on YouTube in which he received an award from AlliedBarton, a security company where he worked as a supervisor since 2006.
The video describes a troubled past, where he dropped out of school and took "pills to take (his) own life." The video said Travis, who volunteered at an income tax assistance nonprofit and became a shift supervisor, planned to get an internship with the United Nations when he completed his business degree at Berkeley.
As part of his job, he provided security for a biotech company where he won a quarterly award twice, he said in his résumé.
The Pennsylvania-based company said Travis left AlliedBarton voluntarily in April after a spotless work record. The company is "saddened by this tragic event," spokeswoman Samantha Thomas said in an email.
Travis attended Ohlone College from fall 2007 through this summer, getting his associate degree in business, said Patrice Birkedahl, a spokeswoman with the Fremont school. The Lodi native graduated with a 3.85 GPA and was a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and Toastmasters, according to his résumé.
On Wednesday, police said they were trying to determine why he brought the handgun onto campus, but officials stressed there was no evidence he had any connection to the Occupy Cal protesters demonstrating on the other side of campus.
Travis was shot multiple times by a university police officer after he pointed the loaded pistol -- a semi-automatic 9 mm Ruger -- at officers and refused numerous orders to drop the weapon, the school said. The officers immediately applied first aid to Travis until fire department paramedics arrived and took him to the hospital, UC police Capt. Margo Bennett said. Travis had a permit, issued in San Jose, for the Ruger.
Nine other people were in the lab at the time, but no one else was injured. Campus police have interviewed at least 20 witnesses and reviewed video surveillance footage, which "corroborates everything our witnesses and the officers said," Bennett said.
The business school dean, chancellor and police chief met with Haas students Wednesday to brief them on the shooting.
"This is one of the most difficult times we have had as a community," Chancellor Robert Birgeneau said at the gathering. "I want to thank the Haas staff for their alertness in this issue. It was just extraordinary. This sets an example for responsibility and alertness. I also want to thank the police for their very quick response.
"Our heart goes out to the family of this young man," he said to more than 200 faculty, students and staff.
Tuesday's shooting was the first fatal officer-involved shooting on campus since 1991, when 19-year-old People's Park activist Rosebud Denovo was shot and killed by an Oakland police officer after she wielded a machete. She had broken into then-Chancellor Chang Lin Tien's mansion moments before.
Staff writers Kristin J. Bender and Chris De Benedetti contributed to this report.