Suspect Rented SUV to Maximize Injuries in UNC Attack

March 8, 2006
Grad student rented Jeep in attempt to kill, injure students at campus hangout

A University of North Carolina graduate accused of running down nine people on campus in a sport utility vehicle rented the Jeep to inflict maximum injury, according to an affidavit released Tuesday.

Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar, a 22-year-old Iran native, told authorities he drove a rented Jeep Grand Cherokee because it had four-wheel drive and could "run things over and keep going," according to an application for a warrant to search his home and vehicle.

No one was seriously hurt last Friday when a vehicle plowed through a part of the campus known as The Pit, scattering students. Moments later, Taheri-azar called 911 to surrender, and prosecutors charged him with nine counts of attempted murder and assault.

During the call, Taheri-azar told a dispatcher he wanted to "punish the government of the United States for their actions around the world," according to a recording released by police. He later told investigators he hoped to "avenge the deaths of Muslims around the world," authorities have said.

The affidavit said Taheri-azar told police that he had been considering an attack to avenge mistreatment of fellow Muslims for two years, and that he had planned Friday's assault for two months.

He picked 11:45 a.m. Friday for the attack because that's when he expected the largest crowds, investigators said. He said he was disappointed there weren't more people in the area, according to the affidavit.

He was carrying two cans of pepper spray and a five-inch folding knife to use if he became trapped or threatened, the affidavit said.

Though assigned a public defender, Taheri-azar told the judge in his first court appearance Monday that he would make his own decisions about what to say. Prosecutor Jim Woodall said he expects Taheri-azar will be allowed to represent himself.

He is being held on a $5.5 million bond at a maximum-security prison.

He graduated in December after studying psychology and philosophy. Investigators believe he has spent most of his life in the United States.

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