A former UNC student has officially been indicted on felony charges in connection with a fire and small explosion on the UNC campus late last year.
Joshua Daniel Edwards was charged in connection with setting a fire at the iconic Davie Poplar tree on the Chapel Hill campus. A professor was trying to stamp out the fire when the small explosion occurred.
Edwards was arrested shortly after the incident and taken for a mental evaluation. After the testing, he was taken to the Orange County Jail and held under a $200,000 bond.
The 24-year-old was eventually released into the custody of his parents under conditions he continued receiving treatment.
Edwards is charged with malicious use of explosives to inflict injury, malicious use of explosives to damage property, assembling a weapon of mass destruction, setting fire to grass/grassland, assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury and filing a false police report. All of the charges are felonies. If Edwards is convicted of the most severe crime, assistant district attorney Jeff Nieman said, Edwards would be required to serve some jail time.
The fire and explosion set off a series of events that led to a tense night in Carrboro. UNC Police alerted town authorities that Edwards’ vehicle was believed to be parked in Carrboro and could contain additional hazardous material.
That led to a lockdown of a portion of downtown Carrboro. The bomb squad was brought in from the Durham County Sheriff’s Office to inspect the vehicle but no further dangers were identified.
The professor hurt by the blaze – Dan Reichart – underwent surgery and established a fundraising campaign hoping to raise money for cancer awareness and prevention. Reichart was unable to return to his role as a professor during the fall but was hopeful to be back in the classroom for the spring semester, which got underway on Wednesday.
There is no firm date set at this time regarding the next steps in the case against Edwards.