Charges filed against Lexington man suspected in UNC Chapel Hill explosion

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Police have filed charges against the Lexington man accused of setting fire to a tree on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Joshua Daniel Edwards, 24, has not been placed under arrest, but arrest warrants have been filed for six felony charges.

The charges include:

  • Felony count of malicious use of explosives to inflict injury
  • Felony count of malicious use of explosives to damage property
  • Felony count of assembling a weapon of mass destruction
  • Felony count of setting fire to grass/grassland
  • Felony count of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury
  • Felony count of “filing a false police report

The incident happened shortly before 4 p.m. Thursday at the Davie Poplar tree in the McCorkle Place area of campus.

A student told WTVD he saw Edwards sitting under the tree just moments before the fire started, adding that the suspect starting skipping away saying, “Yes, yes, yes” once flames were seen.

Video from witnesses showed the professor trying to stomp out a fire at the base of the tree moments before the explosion happened.

A professor — identified as Dan Reichart — fell to the ground and then quickly ran away with burns to his face and arms. He is expected to be OK.

A court date will be assigned once Edwards is formally charged.