Professor injured after device explodes on UNC campus, investigation underway

(Source: CBS North Carolina)
(Source: CBS North Carolina)

CARRBORO, N.C. (WNCN) – Carrboro police are investigating a suspicious car in the area of W. Weaver Street and Lindsay Street, and UNC police are investigating the detonation of a device at Davie Poplar in the heart of UNC-Chapel Hill's campus. Carrboro police say the two incidents are related.

UNC officials say campus police have one person in custody. They described the device at the tree as small.

UNC Sophomore Davis Propst Dawson said that the person screamed "This is the Revelation! You've witnessed the anti-Christ!" as he was on the ground being detained.

He also repeated "Hail Satan!" multiple times, Dawson said.

UNC officials said one person was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

UNC junior Evan White, who saw events unfold, said a professor who tried to put the fire out was injured.

"I saw a giant ball of flames preceded by a large boom, the sound of it going off, and ran to the scene to find a professor fairly significantly burned from trying to put out the fire," White said.

White said people frantically tried to help the professor until police and EMS workers arrived.

Facebook posts by a UNC professor who claims to be the one injured in the explosion wrote that he "Got some 1st and 2nd degree burns to face and arms, left arm might need a skin graft…Will probably be here until sometime next week."

CBS North Carolina is not identifying the professor since authorities have not confirmed his identity.

"I find myself relieved that he's been arrested, but honestly still distressed that those type of people operate within our normal society," White said.

Davie Poplar is a well-known campus landmark. According to UNC, legend says it marks the spot a Revolutionary War general selected for the university in the 18th century. The tree has survived lightning strikes and hurricanes, the university says.

Carrboro police Cpt. Chris Atack said UNC campus police contacted Carrboro police with information about a vehicle parked on West Weaver Street.

"That information led us to be concerned," Atack said. "We're not sure what we are dealing with but we want people to be safe."

West Weaver Street in Carrboro is closed until further notice, police said. The public is asked to avoid the area.

Police are requesting that anyone in this area evacuate: South Greensboro/Roberson, West Main/Jones Ferry, West Main/West Weaver, East Main/Roberson/East Weaver. Anyone in that area should move to perimeter, police say.

The Durham County bomb squad is on scene and investigating, police said. Just before 7 p.m., Carrboro police said that a loud boom heard in the area was the Durham County Sheriff's Office breaching the car.

The two locations are about a mile apart.