Chris Burrous, a 1997 Chapman alumnus and KTLA weekend morning news anchor, was found unconscious at a Glendale Days’ Inn motel on Dec. 27 and later reported dead. The cause of death has not yet been determined, according to the Glendale Police Department. Burrous was 43.
A man who was with Burrous and called 911 indicated that Burrous’ death might have been an overdose, according a Glendale Police Department report. He was pronounced dead later that day.
Remembered by KTLA as a “great journalist,” Burrous is survived by his wife, Mai Burrous, and nine-year-old daughter, Isabella Burrous. As of Feb. 3, a GoFundMe page to help Burrous’ family has raised more than $35,000.
“After being in this business for more than 30 years, I know the type of person that succeeds at this business: high energy, smiles, friendly, because you need people to talk to you. That was Chris Burrous,” said Pete Weitzner, a broadcast journalism professor at Chapman’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, from which Burrous graduated.
Burrous, who had been with the network since 2011, had a popular food segment called “Burrous Bites.”
“He was very versatile and well-liked at the newsroom and by the community. He was extremely popular with his viewers and very good at his job,” said Kerry Brace, KTLA’s assistant news director.
Samantha Cortese, a 2011 Chapman broadcast journalism alumna, remembers meeting Burrous when first starting her journalism career. Live at the scene of a fire in Beaumont, California, Cortese was surrounded by big networks like CBS, NBC and ABC.
“It was intimidating,” Cortese wrote in an email to The Panther. “Next to me, though, was Chris Burrous. He was cool as a cucumber, as natural as any reporter could be, and had his notes scribbled on his hand in marker. He made it look so easy.”
After telling Burrous that KTLA was her dream station, she took a photo with a KTLA microphone.
“I have that photo all these years later,” Cortese, who is now an anchor for KTLA, wrote in the email.
Weitzner, who began overseeing the broadcast journalism program in 1997, did not have Burrous as a student, but said their paths crossed over the years. As his career progressed, Burrous called Weitzner offering to “help the program in any way” he could.
“(Burrous) is really inspirational to me,” said Hailey Haskell, a senior news and documentary major. “I’ve grown up watching the KTLA morning news, so seeing his bubbly personality, his humor and his fun that he brought to KTLA every weekend morning was something I aspired to be like.”
Burrous also frequented Dodge classrooms to talk to students studying broadcast journalism, Weitzner said.
“There are three things that make you a leader,” Burrous would say in classes at Dodge, according to Weitzner. “Being the first one to ask a question at a big news conference, being the first one to break a story and being the first one to break a story on a public record search.”