A faculty member lost his life in a shooting incident at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill on Monday, August 28.
The incident occurred around 1:02 pm in the school’s Caudill Laboratories, prompting students, faculty, and staff to take immediate shelter while authorities searched for the gunman.
Within 90 minutes, the suspected assailant was apprehended, as announced by Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz in a press briefing later that evening.
The suspect, identified as Tailei Qi, a 34-year-old doctoral student at the university, was arrested around 2:40 pm near Williams Circle, two miles from the university. Qi studied at Wuhan University in China and had a 2021 masters in mechanical engineering from Louisiana State University.
The deceased, Associate Professor Zijie Yan of the Department of Applied Physical Sciences, was Qi’s faculty advisor in a research group on nanoparticles. UNC Police Chief Brian James expressed the need to determine the motive for the shooting and the relationship between the deceased and the shooter. Chief James also mentioned that the firearm used in the incident has not been retrieved.
Chancellor Guskiewicz addressed the disrupted sense of security on campus, stating the need to restore faith and safety in the community.
Following the shooting, the university administration issued alerts, advising everyone on campus to stay indoors and secure their premises. Around 4:15 pm, the “all clear” signal was given. Academic and other campus-related activities were suspended for two days as a precaution.
Footage from local media showed heightened police presence, with students evacuating buildings with their hands raised. They also captured images of a person, presumably the suspect, being detained by campus police.
In a short hearing in Orange County Superior Court, Qi was ordered jailed without bond until his next court date on September 18.
The UNC Chapel Hill campus accommodates roughly 32,000 students and is supported by a staff and faculty of over 13,000.