UNC graduate charged in Muslim revenge vehicle assault

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — A recent University of North Carolina graduate was charged with nine counts of attempted murder Saturday, a day after authorities say he drove through a popular campus gathering spot in an attempt to avenge Muslim deaths.

Derek Poarch, chief of the university police department, confirmed Saturday that Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar, a 22-year-old Iran native, told investigators he wanted to “avenge the deaths or murders of Muslims around the world.” Poarch would not provide any other details on the motive.

Taheri-azar also is charged with nine counts of assault.

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No one was seriously hurt in the incident just before noon Friday at The Pit, a sunken, brick-paved area surrounded by two libraries, a dining hall and the student union near the center of campus.

The area has broad walkways that can be used as fire lanes, but it has no streets. Taheri-azar drove a Jeep Cherokee from a parking lot in almost a U-shape through a cluster of off-street buildings, looping past the dining hall and veering between it and one of the libraries before he reached a side road and sped away, Poarch said.

Five students and a visiting scholar were treated at and released from hospitals, the university said in a statement. Three other people declined treatment, police said.

Taheri-azar is being held on a $5.5 million bond. He was scheduled to appear in court Monday. Poarch would not say whether Taheri-azar had an attorney.

Taheri-azar, who called police to surrender and then awaited officers on a street two miles from campus, is cooperating with investigators, Poarch said.

Source

(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
Margaret Lillard, AP, via OUdaily.com, Mar. 5, 2006, oudaily.com

Religion News Blog posted this on Monday March 6, 2006.
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