Not a dupe, yet
. Not tainted with halfwitted bigotry, yet
Police plan attempted murder charges in UNC hit-and-run caseEMERY P. DALESIOAssociated PressCHAPEL HILL, N.C. - A recent University of North Carolina graduate faces attempted murder charges after a sport utility vehicle raced through a popular campus gathering spot Friday, hurting nine people and scattering startled bystanders.
Six people - five students and a visiting scholar - were treated at UNC Hospitals, though a hospital spokesman said none was seriously injured. Five were released Friday and the sixth wasn't expected to be admitted to the hospital, the university said in a statement. Three other people declined treatment at the scene, police said.
Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar, 22, who graduated in December as a psychology and philosophy major, was being held Friday by campus police. They intend to charge him with nine counts of attempted murder and nine counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, said Capt. George Hare of the UNC Department of Public Safety.
The FBI joined the case because Taheri-azar, a native of Iran, "allegedly made statements that he acted to avenge the American treatment of Muslims. The ongoing investigation will work to confirm this," said Special Agent Richard Kolko, an FBI spokesman in Washington.
Taheri-azar called police to surrender and then awaited officers on a side street about two miles away from campus, Chapel Hill police Capt. Brian Curran said.
"He kind of gave himself up," said Officer Herbert Bryant of the university's Department of Public Safety.
A bomb squad from the State Bureau of Investigation spent about 4 1/2 hours at Taheri-azar's apartment in nearby Carrboro at the request of police before declaring the building safe. Taheri-azar "encouraged the checking of his apartment" with comments made after he was arrested, Carrboro police spokesman Capt. Joel Booker said.
"He said it almost in a baiting type of way," Booker said.
Local authorities declined to say what they found in Taheri-azar's apartment or to discuss a motive. Investigators continued to search the apartment Friday night for other evidence, Booker said.
"As far as delving into his motives and things like that, we're in the process of developing that in our investigation," Hare said.
The incident happened just before noon near the center of campus at the area known as The Pit, a sunken, brick-paved area surrounded by two libraries, a dining hall and the student union. It does not have any easy access points for vehicles and can't be reached without deliberation.
"I see everyone kind of part because there's a car coming through and the next thing I know, I'm on his windshield," sophomore Jeff Hoffman, his arm in a bandage, told the campus newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel.
Student Nicholas Altman was talking on his cell phone when he heard someone scream.
"I turned around and there was a white SUV. It looked like it hit a couple of people. One person in particular went over the hood," he told WRAL-TV.
On a sunny, cool day like Friday, the Pit is a busy center of campus activities, with students perched along the walkways and steps. Friday's noontime crowd included a gathering of candidates for Black Student Movement elections.
"He slowly came in, and I thought he was going to stop or something," sophomore Scott Wilson, a candidate for BSM vice president, told The Daily Tar Heel. "But then he sped right through."
The incident came a week after a UNC dormitory resident adviser was killed when he and another student crashed through a dorm window, falling four stories onto the concrete below. The second student remains hospitalized in fair condition.