SUV drives into pit at UNC

Sometime around noon an SUV drove into the Pit on the campus of UNC. It's being reported by WRAL that one five students were hit and taken away on a stretcher. Many people on campus were alerted to this event by the sound of helicopters flying overhead. Some live video is being shown of the area on WRAL's Sky 5 video.



This from the DTH:

A silver Jeep Cherokee careened through the Pit on Friday about noon, striking more than 10 pedestrians.

Five victims were transported to UNC Hospitals, including a 20-year-old female suffering from a head injury and a 42-year-old male suffering from road rash.

The suspect was apprehended at Plant Road shortly after the incident. Several at the scene were able to supply the suspect's driver's license tags to police. Capt. Brian Curran with the Chapel Hill police was on the phone with someone at the scene within seconds of the incident, said police spokeswoman Jane Cousins.

Officers had the scene cleared at 12:16 a.m., roping off the entirety of the Pit with police tape.

The scene was frantic, with hundreds of students and community members struggling to find out what happened.

Jeez, the one place you'd think pedestrians would be safe! From what I read it sounds like this was intentional. How bizarre and awful.

This story can only end badly. Either alcohol, mental impairment, or evil has to be behind it.

Yeah. I'm hearing this was definitely intentional. Students on the scene say the driver was going 40+ mph and aiming for students.

Chapel Hill police have arrested a man, who they said is not a student of the school, and he is in custody.

Holy sh*t. What Robert said.

I'm betting on evil.

From another thread:

It has been a really bad 6 weeks for campus.

The DTH was on the scene of the latest car-n-pedestrian incident and has this report.

I was riding my bike over to the Pit for a cup-of-joe when I stumbled on the incident. From the eyewitnesses I spoke with, a youngish looking guy - some said with short black hair - driving a silver Jeep slowly approached the Pit from the UL side of Lenoir. The Jeep turned left towards the crowded Pit (which is usually pretty active @ noon), the driver rev'd his engine and drove quickly in front of Lenoir.

Several folk manning two different tables in the Pit, told me that from the Jeep turning at the UL to driving out between Davis Library/Lenoir took between 10-20 seconds at most. The driver didn't honk his horn - just rev'd the engine and went.

Witnesses told me that 50 to 100 folk all went running right and left out of the Jeep's path. None of them saw a secondary injury caused by trampling, etc.

I rode up as several ambulances were pulling out.

There was a calm crowd gathered behind a taped off area in front of Lenoir. Students were either on their cells, most seeming to be telling others about the incident, or talking with each other. I didn't sense any panic - and folk I spoke with chalked the incident up to some (as one put it) “crazy” person.

According to the Pit witnesses and others I spoke with, between 7 and 10 folk were hurt. Officers on the scene told me 5 were sent to the hospital, with two more serious than the others. One young woman told me that she saw a female student stuck - get knocked heavily down to the bricks - who seemed to have a fairly serious cut on the head. The other more serious injury appeared to be an older guy (”about your age” - [I'm 44]) that appeared to be pulled along with the Jeep long enough to get a roadrash.

The campus and town police responded quickly and had the incident well-in-hand. While I was standing there, I heard that the perp was caught.

Crazy, crazy, crazy.

I'm sure we'll hear more from the real media.

As far as the motives of this individual, I hope we get some real detail soon.

There's not a lot of room between the Pit and Lenoir, so it might be hard to tell if it was deliberate or incidental to the general stupidity.

Several witnesses told me they felt the guy was aiming at people. Two people told me that they thought he was trying to steer out of a narrow spot as quickly as possible.

In either case, everyone agreed that the only warning was a rev'ing of the engine - that the car took between 10-20 seconds to go from the UL (Undergrad Lib.) to Davis Library.

I'm sure journalist/investigators run into the problem of amplified information. I was there within minutes and spoke to folk manning the tables in the Pit first. Then I spoke with some bystanders, a few reporters and a few officers (who were very careful in what they said).

By the time I left Lenoir, I'd heard people repeating the "deliberate" line in their cell conversations (of which there was about as many as there were people) - though only two of the five people I initially spoke with thought it might be deliberate - one of which was utterly convinced. In contrast, I'd also heard that it was a police chase gone bad - something that neither my primary witnesses could confirm and something denied by law enforcement.

I only mention this because I imagine lots of rumors are flying (maybe the downside of our electronic communications age).

A woman I spoke with saw it from inside a building on campus and estimated the speed at 20 mph.

Folks seem to agree the person accelerated in front of Lenoir.

From the N&O:
"The driver sped off, but minutes later called 911 to have police come arrest him."

I'm waiting for it to be discovered a few days from now that one of the victims had a .11 blood alchohol content and the blame will shift to the victim

Interesting to see how this news has spread.

For the first time that I can recall, the HeraldSun posted some prelim details on their site with a promise of further news. Usually their site staticly follows their print edition.

Of course, the DTH was right on it. Over the last couple years, they've effectively leveraged their web presence to break news as it happens.

WRAL beat the rest of the electronic pack (as far as I can tell by listening to 1360AM), getting their video and a short AP piece out about the same time as the DTH.

I was surprised to see that the N&O was able to put together a fairly strong story and post it in near real-time on their main site but omitted their local arm - the Chapel Hill News.

Of course, Brian was pretty quick on the uptake, beating out, as far as I can tell, the HS and NBC17.

It's been on CNN

Can anyone tell me why my street (BPW Club Rd) has been blocked off? Did the perp live here?

Also, there's a bomb squad here.

I'm with Evil too.

(what-the-heck is "road rash"?)

John, it's a bicyclist term. It's a laceration/abrasion caused by contact between your tender flesh and unforgiving asphalt/concrete.

I've been fairly lucky in life to have experienced it so little...

The Daily Tar Heel is doing an amazing job covering this story in darn near close to live time. The man alleged to have done this lives in University Commons where a bomb threat was called in just recently.

David --

Apprently the driver told police there was something in his apartment at Univesity Commons. They called in the bomb squad.

David--'At about 2 p.m. a bomb threat was called into the University Commons apartments, at 303 Smith Level Road, where Taheri-Azar lived. State Bureau of Investigations officials entered the building at 3:03 p.m.'

There was/is a bomb threat called in @ 2pm for University Commons Apartments. One news agency said it might be associated with the Pit incident.

WRAL is reporting more on the perp:

Authorities say 23-year-old Mohammed Reza Taheriazar drove a silver Jeep Grand Cherokee drove into The Pit at the UNC-Chapel Hill campus around noon Friday, injuring five students and a visiting scholar.

Police said they would charge Taheriazar, who was a UNC student as recently as Fall 2005, with multiple counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill. Authorities are not releasing a motive, but they did say the incident was intentional.

CNN has apparently been calling and trying to get their hands on the cartoon of Mohammed published Feb. 9 in the Daily Tar Heel.

It's actually available online:

I am not saying there is a connection. I am being wildly speculative.

The same thought ran through my mind, too, Joan.

I know a lot of people are unwilling to make the leap... it's not PC ... but I'm in two classes on terrorism this semester and in the midst of a Sayyid Qtub book so I'm there already. I think it's a reasonable logical leap, especially given the claims of intentionality from folks on scene.

I hope it's not, but if it is related, then this is exactly the reason why we should be running cartoons and refusing to be intimidated.

Yeah, I live on Smith Level Road, right by you, David. I have absolutely NO idea why everything is blocked off and there appear to be SWAT team members on BPW Club. WRAL is just reporting that police won't say what's going on, and had a live video feed from the helicopter, but that was taken off a few minutes ago.

Worried I am.

Guys, it appears

was involved with the Society for Prevention Research and participated in a recent conference where he co-wrote a presentation for the Cultural Sensitivity track on:

88 Understanding Mediating Factors In The Development Of Culturally Sensitive School Based Preventive Interventions For Latino Immigrant Students., Elvia Y. Valencia, Valerie Johnson, Robert J. Pandina, Marco Zarate, Mohammed R. Taheriazar

I'd hate to see the profiling begin....

This could just be a troubled guy (like Williamson on Henderson St.).

Let's not jump to conclusions people. PLEASE

Brian, I don't think anyone has concluded anything. I'm not jumping to any conclusions. I just wanted to pass along information about a phone call from CNN... they are looking into a possible connection, or so it seems.

Of course CNN is looking for a connection. Makes for a great story in the national American media - someone with a Muslim-sounding name does something awful, must be because of terrorism or response to a cartoon or something.

I'm not saying it's not true, it could be for all I know, that there is some connection. But in an instance like this, I'm trusting the local news sources and the hearsay I get on blogs like this for now, and watching things develop.

And I'm really worried about that supposed bomb threat in Carrboro right now. My house is not too far from there.

CNN has wound up using most of the DTH information. They've called here two or three times now.

But nobody has asked Ryan about the cartoon.

Just for everyone's information.

Joan's right -- it's not conclusion, it's speculation. One possibility out of many...

And given the hints of threats and violence from folks during the cartoon ruckus of this last two weeks, it's no wonder we're on edge.

I didn't mean a call to the DTH.

coverage at

I also just got this email:
At the request of the Emergency Crews handling the situation in the
BPW Club Road area Chapel Hill Transit J buses will not be servicing the
following stops until the area has been made safe/released for re-entry by
EMS Crews:

1. University Commons on Smith Level Road
2. BPW Club Road on Smith Level Road
3. None of the bus stops on BPW Club Road

The D buses will not be servicing:

1. University Commons Bus stop on Smith Level Road

All J buses will service Rock Creek (first bus stop only),
Carrboro Public Works and Frank Porter Graham School bus stops on
Smith Level as usual.

When this situation has been cleared up we will resume regular bus service.

Please contact Chapel Hill Transit 968-2769 for additional updates and questions.

Passing along info is great. Thank you, Joan.

Making "a reasonable logical leap" is another thing. I'm just preemptively asking for peace here. I don't agree we “should be running cartoons and refusing to be intimidated.” It's not PC to wait for the facts. Once the facts are apparent a non-violent attitude is always the best option in my opinion.


I know you didn't, but I just wanted to let everyone know that, though CNN has called here, they haven't asked _us_ for a cartoon.

Chris, is the DTH following up with the UNC Psych Club membership to see if they can shed any light on Taheri-Azar's behavior.

I imagine some of the folk who were members at the same time as Taheri-Azar are still around and might be able to comment more directly on mental state.

Has anyone seen anything about who called in the bomb threat? It doesn't sound like it came from the alleged perp.

Refusing to be intimidated isn't a violent attitude...

I think given the facts available, it's a reasonable logical leap to speculate upon. Sorry if I didn't make that clear. Obviously as new facts come in, I'll be modifying my speculations.

Okay, Chris, thanks for the clarification.

A friend of mine was in two classes with him -- behavioral science classes -- and he says he was quiet, reticent and polite.

I didn't recognize the name at first, but now that WRAL has a face shot up I realize I had a class with him as well. He was in an environmental ethics class with me over the summer taught by the City & Regional Planning department. It was a small class - the kind where you know first names of most folks and at least a little about him. Mohammed was, as Ginny said, a quiet, reticent, and polite student - I only spoke with him before or after class on a few occasions, but he seemed to go out of his way to hold open doors and that sort of thing. He also was one of the hardest working people in that class - I remember he sent out emails on various occasions to the entire class about articles he had read outside of the required reading that pertained to what we might be talking about that day. One of the articles he wanted us to read was an account of the Islamic cultural stance on environmental ethics, as he found what was in our book to be misrepresentative. Though, I hope no one tries to use that to fuel misguided speculation. I would not have expected an intentional assault from him at all based on the character he portrayed in class, but as best I can tell from news reports that's the only likely possibility at this point.

Also, for the purpose of reporting more news... I live in the apartment complex behind the Community Center, and walk down Plant Road where Taheriazar was apprehended to get to my bus stop every day. I wonder if he wasn't heading to return the rental Jeep - where he stopped is about 500 feet from the car rental place he had reportedly gotten the vehicle. The Jeep was still there when I caught the bus this afternoon at around 1:15, along with a truckload of DTH reporters and a couple of DPS and CHPD cards blocking traffic (of which there is very, very little on that street). He must have hit some folks pretty hard - though there wasn't any blood immediately noticable, there were a number of scuff marks and small indentations on the grill and hood. One almost looked like a treadmark; I'm assuming it was from a shoe streaking across it.

DTH has updated their story. Here is the portion that looks new:

At about 2 p.m., a bomb threat was called into the University Commons apartment buiding D, at 303 Smith Level Road in Carrboro, where Taheriazar is believed to now live. State Bureau of Investigations officials entered the building at 3:03 p.m. The Federal Bureau of Investigation now has arrived. No counter-terrorist agents are present, said Capt. Joel Booker, of the Carrboro Police Department. The bomb squad, Hazmat officials and other personnel entered the building at 5:28 p.m. Booker said the threat is related to the campus incident. All buildings have been cleared, and police encourage residents not to return to the complex. "To my knowledge, the only person involved is being dealt with on (campus police's) end," he said. "This person obviously has roommates, but there's no reason to believe they were involved." Commons apartments typically house four people. Booker said Taheriazar has two roommates, one a UNC student and one a student at a local community college. They are trying to get one of the roommates to return to the apartment.

DTH Link

Some disturbing news: the local ABC affiliate (channel 11?) reported in their 6pm news that Mohammed told police he did this in retaliation for the bad treatment of Muslims around the world. They reported that he said he wanted to rent the biggest SUV possible so as to cause the most damage.

Very disturbing.

Here's an email from the Chancellor:

Dear Carolina Community:

We are writing to offer reassurance in the wake of a startling incident today that has so rudely jolted our campus community.

Many of you likely have heard about what happened in the Pit shortly before noon as the traditional lunchtime crowd gathered. Our campus police are now investigating an incident in which a Jeep drove into the Pit, injuring six people - at least five of them students - who were taken to UNC Hospitals. Thankfully, none of those injuries is serious, and hospital officials are reporting late this afternoon that they do not expect anyone to be admitted. Three other people declined any medical treatment on the scene. Our thoughts and prayers should be with all of those directly affected by this event, as well as their families and friends.

Campus police have arrested a suspect identified as Mohammed Reza Taheriazar, 23, who graduated from the University last December. He will be charged with multiple felony counts. Police ask that anyone with information about today's incident call them at 962-8100.

These are the facts we have to share this afternoon. We are fortunate to have a nationally recognized police department with an excellent track record. We are confident that a thorough investigation will be conducted.

Our student affairs staff and counselors have been providing support to students who watched the scene unfold in the Pit. We encourage any students, faculty or staff who feel they need assistance to seek out counseling from our staff in the University's Counseling and Psychological Services, which can be contacted by calling 966-3658.

All this comes when we are still in the grieving process for our fallen student, Keith Shawn Smith, who died tragically in the residence hall accident last week. Keith was appropriately honored by the beautiful candlelight vigil at Stacy Residence Hall last night. And we must keep in mind Tyler Joseph Ely Downey of Asheville, who remains hospitalized in fair condition this afternoon.

This is a time when it is important for us all to remember the uncommon spirit that ties our campus community together so strongly. We care about one another and it shows. We draw strength from knowing that each day. We hope you do, too.

James Moeser, Chancellor
and Peggy Jablonski, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs

This email is sponsored by: Office of the Chancellor

here's the complete quote:

Sources say Taheriazar told police he was seeking retribution for the treatment of Muslims around the world, according to ABC News justice correspondent Pierre Thomas. Taheriazar apparently told police he tried to rent the biggest SUV he could find to use in the attack.

What is going on in Carrboro? The helicopters are circling, and there has been very little news, and I am very nervous.

I just drove by after picking up my car at the shop. A student-aged looking guy told me that they were not giving out any information at all. He had just been interviewed by tv news. About 15-20 people were gathered on BPW club at a barricade set up by police. 3-4 newstrucks present, and I could hear at least one helicopter overhead.

Traffic has been detoured through a neighborhood just south of NC 54.

They are circling all around Smith Level Road, they appear to be news helicopters seeking footage.

Robin, the police are investigating whether there is any reason for anyone to be concerned. Civilians are not in the area of University Commons. There appears to be no special reason for residents of Carrboro to be concerned about themselves. All of us are hoping and praying for good news soon. Emergency personnel on the scene are being extremely careful.

I think we should all be praying for no copycats. I doubt the chances of another attack happening here are thin, but it would be too bad if this turns up elsewhere. Actually, was this a copycat, has this happened anywhere else?

My hope, and my guess, is that the actions being taken at the Carrboro address are simply the police being "overly careful." When there's any reason for fear, though, I feel much safer knowing that those in uniform act on the side of caution. I'd rather have 100 false alarms responded to well than one actual situation responded to with negligence. As best as I can tell from news reports, the SBI and Carrboro Police are reacting appropriately and I thank them for their efforts.



Community Guidelines

By using this site, you agree to our community guidelines. Inappropriate or disruptive behavior will result in moderation or eviction.


Content license

By contributing to OrangePolitics, you agree to license your contributions under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

Creative Commons License

Zircon - This is a contributing Drupal Theme
Design by WeebPal.