CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (TCD) — A 34-year-old man was arrested Monday after he allegedly shot and killed an associate professor in a lab on the University of North Carolina campus.
On Monday, Aug. 28, at 1:02 p.m., University of North Carolina (UNC) Police received a 911 call about shots fired in Caudill Laboratory near the center of campus. UNC Police Chief Brian James said the school issued an emergency alert and siren at 1:04 p.m. When officers arrived at Caudill Laboratory, they found one person fatally shot.
According to Brian, that was the only fatality and no one else was injured.
Witnesses described the shooter, and at 2:31 p.m., police located the suspect and took him into custody. Brian said the weapon has not been located and a motive remains unknown. Campus remained on lockdown for several hours following the arrest.
UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said at the press conference, “This loss is devastating and the shooting damages the trust and safety that we so often take for granted in our campus community.”
In a statement, Guskiewicz identified the victim as Dr. Zijie Yan, an associate professor in the Department of Applied Physical Sciences. Guskiewicz described Yan as a “beloved colleague, mentor and friend to many on our campus.” He had been with the university since 2019.
NBC News reports the suspect, Tailei Qi, was charged with first-degree murder and possessing a gun on an educational property.
Qi started at UNC in January 2022 as a graduate student and research assistant in Yan’s department. He reportedly wrote an academic paper with Yan that was recently published.
According to his faculty page, Yan researched optical trapping and manipulation, holography, microfluids, and electronic and nanomaterials.
Qi appeared in court Tuesday, Aug. 29, where a judge denied him bond.
If convicted, he faces life in prison without parole. He could be eligible for the death penalty, but Orange County District Attorney Jeff Nieman said he will not seek it.
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