The Locker Room

March 3, 2006

UNC hit & run driver: For "retribution for the treatment of Muslims around the world"

Posted by Jon Sanders at 7:12 PM

Check the 7:05 update on my post.

Daren, Jeff, it reminded me of the Wendell Williamson shooting spree many years ago.

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UNC Incident

Posted by Jeff A. Taylor at 5:51 PM

Daren let me dissent from your take a little bit. I think prosecutors will see the big picture here and realize how lucky they are not to be faced with a case of mass murder. Public shock and horror will also play a role and will influence prosecutors.

I'm immediately reminded of the Scott Gardner case, the Gaston County teacher killed by a drunk illegal alien. At a dinner party a few weeks after the event, the topic of possible outcomes came up. One lawyer loudly declaimed that there was not much the state could do, rules are rules, it is too bad, yes, but he -- as a lawyer -- was quite certain that the perp would only get a few years.

Me, as a common journalist, said that prosecutors will find one way or another to make sure he got at least 15 years and no judge would quibble. I was told I didn't understand.

He got 17 years.

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Posted by Shannon Blosser at 4:58 PM

No matter which way you cut it, this is a pretty scary situation in general not only for UNC-Chapel Hill but the community at large here in Chapel Hill.  I would hope that UNC-Chapel Hill officials take this incident seriously and that the community at large understands the significance of what occured today.

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Re: UNC Hit & Run

Posted by Daren Bakst at 4:14 PM

If it turns out this is all about the cartoon, I wonder whether UNC security will properly classify this crime as a "hate crime."  Under the Clery Act, colleges have to compile and then disclose reports on campus crime.  One of the requirements of this law is to identify those crimes that are "hate crimes."  For some reason, I have my doubts this will be considered a hate crime.

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UNC hit & run for "retribution for the treatment of Muslims around the world"

Posted by Jon Sanders at 3:43 PM

Title changed to reflect news as of 7:05 p.m. (see below). Original title: "UNC hit & run may be related to Mohammed cartoon in The Daily Tar Heel."


Authorities say 23-year-old Mohammed Reza Taheriazar drove a silver Jeep Grand Cherokee drove into The Pit at the UNC-Chapel Hill campus around noon Friday, injuring five students and a visiting scholar.

Police said they would charge Taheriazar, who was a UNC student as recently as Fall 2005, with multiple counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill. Authorities are not releasing a motive, but they did say the incident was intentional.

It's not too much of a stretch to think that this is related to the "Mohammed" cartoon flap at UNC. News about that: Story 1, Story 2, Story 3.

Update: 3:50 p.m. WRAL site now has this flash headline:

BREAKING NEWS: Carrboro police are on the scene of a suspicious situation at University Commons Apartments in Carrboro. Authorities will not confirm what the situation is about.

Unconfirmed reports are saying the two incidents are related. Here's a link to the Live Sky 5 Video.

Update: 4:09 p.m. Here is the offending cartoon:

Update: 4:15 p.m. The Daily Tar Heel has added this report:

Mohammed Reza Taheriazar, 23, who graduated in 2005, is in custody at the Department of Public Safety after turning himself in after the incident. ...

At about 2 p.m. a bomb threat was called into the University Commons apartment buiding D, at 303 Smith Level Road, where Taheriazar is believed to live. State Bureau of Investigations officials entered the building at 3:03 p.m. The Federal Bureau of Investigations now have arrived.

Capt. Joel Booker, of the Carrboro Police Department, said they are not sure how the threat is related to the campus incident. Officials believe Taheriazar lives in University Commons. All buildings have been cleared. Booker says there is reason to believe that there is a public threat at the building.

Update 4:34 p.m. I've got an unconfirmed report that Taheriazar was the one who phoned in the bomb threat on his apartment building. (Which might mean it's not credible?)
Update 4:42 p.m. This isn't new news, but I think it's important to point out that Taheriazar had rented the SUV this morning at Enterprise Rent-a-Car this morning (that's in the news links above). Also, WRAL has several photos of the hit-and-run on the Pit.

Update 4:59 p.m. WRAL has pulled its "Breaking News" headline about the Carrboro apartment complex. I'm hoping that means the bomb threat has subsided.
Update 5:18 p.m. WRAL has a photo of Taheriazar, whom they say will be charged with "with multiple counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill." A student tells WRAL that "He was speeding up and swerving to hit people. One person got knocked out of a wheelchair, and he didn't care." Here is the photo of Taheriazar:

Update: 6:50 p.m. NBC 17 News has an update on the apartment threat. Some highlights:

Authorities told NBC-17 Taheriazar made a comment while he was being taken into custody which prompted police to rush to University Commons Apartment Complex off of Smith Level Road. [As opposed to having "phoned" it in as rumored earlier.]

Police, SWAT teams and fire departments have swarmed the complex. Capt. Joel Booker, of the Carrboro Police Department, told NBC-17 authorities have not entered Taheriazar's apartment. They are apparently waiting on legal permission to do so.

Taheriazar has two roommoates, one of which authorities have already located. They are still searching for the other.

I must say, this is less encouraging. The article included this news about a motive: "Authorities were unsure of a motive for the attack, Hare said. 'As far as delving into his motives and things like that, we're in the process of developing that in our investigation,' he said."

Update 7:05 p.m. ABC 11 News reports a motive:

The driver of an SUV that plowed into a group of pedestrians at UNC-Chapel Hill on Friday told police it was retribution for the treatment of Muslims around the world, according to ABC News.

I wonder: Were there any Muslims in the Pit when he plowed in?

Regarding Taheriazar's roommates, the article included this quotation: "Thomas said his sources said Taheriazar may have been the sole actor in the attack."

Update: 7:55 p.m. The DTH has a new story up. There are several questions about Taheriazar's past, including possible previous reckless driving charges. It has more about the investigation at his apartment, too:

Carrboro police officials, a bomb squad, a Hazmat team and the state and federal Bureaus of Investigation have been staked out at Building D of the University Commons apartment complex, at 303 Smith Level Road, since 2 p.m.

Police became suspicious of the building, where Taheri-azar is believed to now live, after his arrest. No counter-terrorist agents are present, said Capt. Joel Booker of the Carrboro Police Department.

The bomb squad, Hazmat officials and other personnel entered the building at 5:28 p.m. A loud boom was heard from inside the building, but no incident has been reported.

The report mentions that Taheriazar had a "grim smirk on his face" as he was being escorted out to be taken to the Orange County jail. You can see it here:

Update: 8:32 p.m. Forbes is on the story reporting this tidbit of interest:

The FBI joined the case because Taheri-azar, a native of Iran, "allegedly made statements that he acted to avenge the American treatment of Muslims," said agent Richard Kolko, an FBI spokesman in Washington. "The ongoing investigation will work to confirm this."

Update: 9:30 p.m. WRAL has an in-depth story up now:

... The FBI joined the case because Taheri-azar, a native of Iran, "allegedly made statements that he acted to avenge the American treatment of Muslims. The ongoing investigation will work to confirm this," said Special Agent Richard Kolko, an FBI spokesman in Washington. ...

A bomb squad from the State Bureau of Investigation spent about 4 1/2 hours at Taheri-azar's apartment at the request of police before declaring the building safe. Taheri-azar "encouraged the checking of his apartment" with comments made after he was arrested, Carrboro police spokesman Capt. Joel Booker said.

"He said it almost in a baiting type of way," Booker said.

Local authorities declined to say what they found in Taheri-azar's apartment or to discuss a motive. Investigators continued to search the apartment Friday night for other evidence, Booker said.

This will likely be the last update of the night for me, unless there's a major new finding.

Update: 12:48 a.m. ABC News has updated its story (linked at the 7:05 update). New information:

A law enforcement source tells Eyewitness News that Taheri-azar had been plotting the attack for some time and was prepared to die. Sources think he acted alone. ...

Sources tell Eyewitness News and ABC News that Taheri-azar was intent on killing people Friday.

"One official said the officials and students on campus were lucky today," Thomas said. "Because if he had done what he wanted to do, you'd probably have some dead people on your campus."

The article adds that the Muslim Students Association has denounced Taheri-azar, who was never a member of their group.

Return to the Locker Room.

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Pat Michaels on Antarctic Ice Sheet

Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 2:35 PM

At a talk given at UNC last night, UVA climatologist Patrick Michaels mentioned that this news was going to be all over the paper today and as usual, he exposed it for the misuse of statistics that it is. First he pointed out that it was for a 34-month period beginning in the middle of 2002. Clearly, in terms of climatological history such a short period is meaningless for establishing a trend, as was noted in the quote that Paul cited. But there is more to the story. While it might be meaningless for establishing a trend it is quite useful for reinforcing a mind set. The question might be asked, why didn't the author go back further than 34 months? Pat answered this by putting up the extended data for the thickness of the Antarctic ice sheet and low and behold for a period of ten years prior to the middle of 2002 there had been a sharp increase in its thickness. It is well known in statistics that a person can show any trend he desires if he picks his beginning and end points judiciously--if not honestly.

BTW--over those ten years how many stories did we see in the Washington Post discussing the dramatic increase in the thickness of the Antarctic ice sheet? go do a Google search and let me know.

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Global Climate Catastrophy Abated

Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 11:08 AM

In response to new "same-old" research stating that the total mass of the Antarctic Ice Sheet is in rapid decline:

Richard Alley, a Pennsylvania State University glaciologist who has studied the Antarctic ice sheet but was not involved in the new research, said more research is needed to determine if the shrinkage is a long-term trend, because the new report is based on just three years of data. "One person's trend is another person's fluctuation," he said.
Ha, I got you good! And other neener-neeners.

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Re: latest course of the month

Posted by George Leef at 10:43 AM

Following Larry Summers' march to the scaffold for having enraged the Harvard feminists, will university administrators have the nerve to say "no" to adding anything to the curriculum that's demanded by an "oppressed" group? I wouldn't bet on it. We may very well see State add "transgendered/queer" studies to its curriculum. The fact that only six students so identify themselves (and none of them are interested in a course to "celebrate" their diversity) should not matter in the least. T/Q courses could prove to be very popular with students who are looking for another course where the work involves regurgitating conclusions about hegemony, oppression and so on.

This entire episode deserves a good horselaugh, but remember that inappropriate laughter can get you in trouble at some colleges.

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Latest Course of the Month is posted

Posted by Jon Sanders at 10:09 AM

I gave the LR a preview of it a few days ago, but here it is in its entirety.

My favorite part is still this: "None of the ['trans/gender queer'] respondents in this study favored the creation of a special course for transgender concerns. None mentioned a need for a queer studies curriculum or sexuality studies minor. The transgender students interviewed at nearby universities concurred. [carriage return1] These results could be biased."


1. A reference to typewriter lingo, for Dan Rather, Mary Mapes and certain Abilene Kinko's facsimile users.

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Ante Up

Posted by Jon Sanders at 07:42 AM

In most cases, NPR is a fun station to listen to in the morning if you want to get a good overview of the news on your way to work. It's usually best to cut it off around 10:30, before the Diane "The Crypt Keeper" Rehem scratches the airwaves.

Today there was an interesting story on the Florida Marlins professional baseball team based in Miami. According to the reporter, the Marlins play baseball like a conservative poker player -- given a limited supply of cash, one waits to play their hand until everything is in good form, but folds every other time. Most good poker players would scoff at this kind of play, saying that you've missed a whole other side of the game: the psychological (bluffing, reading the man, etc.). In baseball management terms, this means fielding your best men (and giving more money, if you feel like your team can compete with any other in your league). The Marlins don't play like this.


In the high-stakes incentives game, a major league baseball team doesn't need to always succeed. In fact, sometimes it makes more sense to loose then win, especially if you're the owner of a relatively new team, and you're willing to be mobile -- just like the Marlins. If things aren't going your way (you don't like your stadium, you don't like the weather, you don't like the fans), you can sell off your star players, field a crummy no-name team, thereby reducing your fan numbers, and effectively provide yourself a way out of your contract. (Most, if not all, contracts with cities/states have a minimum crowd attendance level clause). Once no one wants to see you, you've now got the privilege to shop for a new venue.

As long as stadiums are built by cities and states (in some form or another), there's really no incentive to stay put if you're an owner. If the Marlins succeed in jumping ship, I wonder what other, younger teams will do. Will they emulate the Marlins, or maybe they'll see the other side to playing poker: the bluff.

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