Hate Crime in North Carolina?

An attempted murder of nine people.

I'm not wild about special treatment for hate crimes (and, of course, if the story is accurate this is more than just a hate crime); but those who think hate crimes are a separate and important category should agree that this does indeed fall into that category.

UPDATE: I was on the run this morning, and didn't have time to go into details; and I also thought the reason this was a hate crime was pretty clear. Some of the comments question this, though, so let me elaborate.

Hate crime laws generally impose special penalties on criminals who select their targets because of (among other things) the targets' race, religion, or nationality. The attacker here was apparently motivated by his upset at the supposed mistreatment of Muslims. It thus seems no accident that he targeted for his attack a place that's frequented by members of other religious groups. I realize that most places in America are frequented by non-Muslims; if he hadn't told us his motives, we might assume that he was just choosing victims for reasons unrelated to religion. But he has told us his motives, which explain why he drove into a people at a university rather than people outside a mosque or people outside a local Muslim store -- he wanted to retaliate against non-Muslims, so he drove into a predominantly non-Muslim crowd.

Depending on how nationality is defined for purposes of hate crimes laws, an attack aimed at Americans because they are Americans may also be a hate crime on that score. But an attack aimed at a group largely consisting of non-Muslims (or non-Christians or non-Jews) because they aren't Muslims -- and we know this was its aim because it was motivated by the attackers' feeling that Muslims were being mistreated, presumably by non-Muslims -- is a hate crime.

By way of analogy, imagine that a Christian became upset by the supposed mistreatment of Christians (presumably by non-Christians), and rammed his car into a crowd of people who are predominantly non-Christian (or at least not observant Christians). It would seem to me pretty clear that his choice of targets was likely motivated by the targets' religion -- otherwise how would his attack be connected to his stated motive?

Naturally if it turns out that the attacker's motives were different, for instance if it turns out he just want to kill a random bunch of people, or because he was somehow upset at the mistreatment of Muslims by Muslims as well as by non-Muslims -- and decided to act on that by ramming his car into a crowd of predominantly non-Muslim Americans -- the analysis might be different. I'm writing, though, based on what the story reports.