UPDATE: Suspect identified in small explosion on UNC-Chapel Hill campus

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WITN) - The man accused of causing a small explosion Thursday that started a fire at a popular tree on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has been taken to a local hospital for a mental evaluation, that's according to the Orange County District Attorney's Office.

Authorities said a small device detonated at the Davie Poplar tree, which was planted when UNC-CH was founded.

Police identified the suspect as Joshua Edwards, 24, a former student at the university.

No charges have been filed, according to UNC officials.

On Thursday, Professor Dan Reichart attempted to put out the fire at the base of the tree when the explosion happened.

He was burned on his face and arms while students tried to help by tossing water on him.


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A bomb squad was called in to search the car belonging to the suspect accused in the small explosion on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus, according to our sister station, WRAL-TV.

Police say nothing dangerous was found inside the vehicle.

Following the explosion, UNC police asked Carrboro police to be on the lookout for a suspicious vehicle.

Police located a 2011 Honda Accord parked on Weaver Street in a public lot and the bomb squad arrived around 5 p.m. Thursday.

Roads were closed for several hours and authorities evacuated the area as a precaution.

Investigators have not yet released the name of the person in custody.

The explosion happened at the Davie Poplar tree, a historic tree on campus that estimated to be around 375 years old.


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A person is in custody after police say a small device was detonated at an historic tree on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill this afternoon.

University police told people to avoid McCorkle Place on campus.

A video posted to Twitter showed a fire burning at the base of the tree, and a man trying to put the fire out when the explosion occurred.

That person was injured, but not seriously.

The fire has since been put out, according to the university. Cameron Avenue is currently closed to through traffic between S. Columbia St. and Raleigh St.

The school's webpage says legend identifies the tree as the spot where Revolutionary War General William R. Davie selected the site for the school. The tree is estimated to be up to 375 years old.