Joshua Daniel Edwards made his first appearance in Orange County court on Thursday afternoon facing multiple felony charges in connection with a small explosion on the UNC campus earlier this month.
Edwards, a former UNC student, has been undergoing a mental evaluation since being taken into custody in connection with a detonation of a small device at the iconic Davie Poplar tree. The 24-year-old was officially arrested Thursday and went before a magistrate before making his court appearance via video from the jail.
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.
UNC Police alerted Carrboro Police that Edwards’ vehicle was parked in Carrboro and may contain other dangerous material after the explosion. After further investigation, including assistance from the Durham County Sheriff’s Office bomb squad, no further danger was found.
A UNC professor tried to stamp out the fire when the small explosion occurred. The professor has been receiving treatment at UNC Hospitals for burns sustained in the explosion.
The professor hurt by the blaze – Dan Reichart – has undergone surgery and has now established a fundraising campaign hoping to raise money for cancer awareness and prevention. Reichart is unable to return to his role as a professor until the spring due to health hazards, but he joined Thursday’s UNC Board of Trustees meeting via phone to be honored by the board. Reichart has also been given the Old North State award by Governor Roy Cooper.
Edwards is being held under a $200,00 bond and has a hearing scheduled for next Wednesday.