UNC identifies ex-student arrested following on-campus fire, explosion

UPDATE: UNC professor Daniel Reichart arrived home from the hospital Nov. 7.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) – Officials said Joshua Daniel Edwards, 24, was arrested in connection with the fire and explosion on UNC’s campus Thursday afternoon.

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Edwards was at one time a student at UNC, records show. He is currently in the hospital for evaluation.

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Charges have not been formally filed against Edwards.

A fire was started at “Davie Poplar” just before 4 p.m. A device also exploded at that same scene.

RELATED: Professor injured after device explodes on UNC campus, investigation underway

UNC professor Daniel Reichart is also in the hospital recovering from his injuries suffered from that explosion.

Reichart tried to put the fire out when a package exploded causing first- and second-degree burns to his body.

“I was there for about 15-30 seconds trying to kick it out but it got real big, real quick, apparently there’s some kind of accelerant in the package that was left there,” he said. “It looked like a guitar case and some other things.”

Reichart saw this fire while leaving his office Thursday afternoon.

The former Boy Scout thought it was a simple one he could put out.

The explosion left him with burns to his face, arms and hands.

“It happened very fast,” he said. “Faster than I could get my arms up to cover my face. So I didn’t even think about it. I was just thrown back. I saw the video last night for the first time and after the explosion it took a while to find myself in the video. Apparently, I was thrown about 20-30 feet.”

Edwards is former UNC biology major who attended the university between the fall of 2012 and spring of 2016. University records show he withdrew and did not earn a degree.

UNC sophomore Ethan Gilbreath says he saw Edwards get arrested.

“Someone comes over and says, ‘Hey, police are here. They are pulling out guns,’” Gilbreath recalls. “I saw the guy getting arrested. Me and a couple of friends heard him saying some crazy stuff while he was being put in the ambulance.”

“From what I’ve read, he’s clearly mentally ill or deranged or something’s wrong with him mentally,” said Reichart. “So I don’t really hold any ill will against him. Hopefully, he gets the help that he needs.”

On Friday, a tree that’s been standing for centuries, now has burn marks and crime scene tape around it.

The tree is a landmark on campus. There’s an old belief that if this tree falls, the university will crumble.

Reichart expects to leave the hospital Saturday.

UNC police alerted Carrboro police about a suspicious vehicle on W. Weaver Street that was connected to the fire on campus.

The area around that suspicious vehicle was evacuated until an all clear was given around 9 p.m.

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