Statements from UNC-Chapel Hill Media Briefing
3 p.m., Saturday, March 4, 2006
Public Safety Operations Room, UNC-Chapel Hill Campus

The University's Director of Public Safety Derek Poarch:

Good afternoon. I am here to provide an update on the status of the UNC-Chapel Hill Department of Public Safety's ongoing investigation of yesterday's incident in the University's Pit.

First, let me say that it's very early in the investigation. There is still much to do. Our investigators were here until 4 a.m. and are back working now. Because this is an ongoing investigation, there will be a number of things that I'm not comfortable discussing, particularly related to evidence. But we will give you as many of the facts as we can.

We are obviously very thankful that all nine of those who sustained injuries yesterday are OK. None had injuries that required admission to the hospital.

I want to thank our partners: the Chapel Hill Police Department, Carrboro Police Department, Chapel Hill Fire Department and Orange County Emergency Management. We also appreciate the assistance of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation Bomb Squad and the FBI.

Yesterday, officers of the UNC Department of Public Safety arrested Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar (pronounced Mo-hahm'-mid Reh'-za Tah-ur-Eh-zar). He has been charged with nine counts of attempted first-degree murder and nine counts of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury with intent to kill. The Orange County Magistrate has set bond at $5.5 million. His first court appearance has been set for Monday in Orange County District Court.

Our ongoing investigation indicates that the suspect's motive was to avenge the deaths of Muslims around the world. There is every indication in this early stage of the investigation that he acted alone. There is no indication whatsoever that he acted in concert with anyone.

Some of you have asked about the route used to drive into the Pit. The investigation indicates that he entered off of Cameron Avenue and drove behind Bynum Hall. He then drove between Murphey and Manning halls and continued down between Lenoir and Greenlaw halls. He turned left into the Pit area. He then made another immediate left in the Pit between Lenoir and Davis Library. He exited campus off of Emerson Drive.

Now let me turn to the University's Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Dr. Margaret Jablonski.

Dr. Margaret Jablonski, UNC-Chapel Hill Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs

I want to reiterate the University's thanks to the campus community for the tremendous response to yesterday's incident. People responded calmly and with compassion. It reflected the spirit of the Carolina community and we have all drawn strength from that.

We are very grateful, as Chief Poarch said, that there were no serious injuries.

We are staying in contact with the students who were injured and their families. And we continue to offer the support of the Student Affairs staff and counselors throughout the weekend. So far, our counselors have assisted about 50 students. All students, faculty and staff can seek counseling assistance from the University's Counseling and Psychological Services, 966-3658.

We have also reached out to the parents of all of our students. We will continue to do all we can to support the University community during this difficult time.