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UNC Students to Protest Campus Attack

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Some UNC-Chapel Hill students are planning to protest Friday's attack on campus that investigators say might have been an act of terrorism.

Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar, 22, is charged with nine counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to cause bodily injury. Police say he drove an SUV through a crowd of students gathered at The Pit. Six people were treated at the hospital for minor injuries. Three others refused treatment at the scene.

Derek Poarch, chief of the university's police department, confirmed Saturday that Taheri-azar, a native of Iran, told investigators he wanted to "avenge the deaths or murders of Muslims around the world."

A group of UNC students plans to rally at The Pit from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday to protest the attack. They will hand out small American flags. Speakers are scheduled to condemn religious violence. College Republicans, Americans for an Informed Democracy and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies are the main sponsors of the event.

Taheri-azar is being held on a $5.5 million bond at the state's Central Prison in nearby Raleigh. He was scheduled to make a first appearance in Orange County district court on Monday. Poarch would not say if Taheri-azar had an attorney.

Poarch said Taheri-azar, who called police to surrender and then awaited officers on a street two miles from campus, is cooperating with investigators. The FBI has also interviewed Taheri-azar, but Poarch said he did not know if federal charges would be forthcoming.

Taheri-azar told police Friday they would find things inside his apartment in nearby Carrboro that would shed light on his motives, Poarch said. That led authorities to ask the State Bureau of Investigation to search the apartment with a bomb squad, but Poarch said they didn't find anything dangerous.

Poarch declined to offer any additional details about what police found inside the apartment, but said Taheri-azar's roommates have been very cooperative and are not suspects in the case.

"There is no indication whatsoever that he acted in any way other than alone," Poarch said.

Taheri-azar graduated from North Carolina in December after studying psychology and philosophy.

Stay with abc11tv.com and ABC11 Eyewitness News for the latest on this developing story.

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