UNC-Chapel Hill grad student Tailei Qi charged with murder in shooting death of professor

01:28 01.09.2023

A shocking incident took place this week on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where an associate professor was fatally shot. The suspect's identity was quickly reported to the police, as captured in a recording of the 911 call. The audio, although partially redacted, provides insight into the immediate aftermath of the shooting that took place inside a science building.

Authorities wasted no time in apprehending the suspect, Tailei Qi, a 34-year-old resident of Chapel Hill. Qi, a graduate student at the university, was arrested without force less than two hours after the shooting occurred. He was charged with first-degree murder and a weapons count and is currently in jail without bond. It was revealed that Qi was a member of the research group led by the victim, Associate Professor Zijie Yan.

The shocking attack left students and faculty terrified, prompting a campus-wide lockdown that lasted for several hours. The university community gathered for a candlelight vigil to honor the deceased professor, with several hundred people in attendance. Despite the tragedy, classes resumed on Thursday as the flagship campus of UNC tried to return to normalcy.

UNC Police Chief Brian James revealed that the 911 call reporting the gunfire was made around 1 p.m. at Caudill Labs, the primary work location of the victim. The caller, whose identity remains unknown, urged others to seek safety by closing doors and staying inside. When asked for a description of the suspect, the caller confidently provided Qi's name, spelling it out for the emergency operator. The caller also informed the operator that Qi was armed and on campus, describing his appearance and mentioning that a picture of the suspect could be found on the university's website.

The distressed caller emphasized the urgency of the situation and the need for immediate help. The operator instructed them to lock down the campus, warning against opening doors unless an officer was present. Emergency sirens were activated within minutes of the call, and the community received written messages urging them to take shelter due to the presence of an armed and dangerous individual on or near campus.

As the investigation unfolded, it was revealed that Qi quickly fled Caudill Labs after the shooting. It remains unclear whether he entered any other buildings before being apprehended in a Chapel Hill neighborhood. A photo of Qi was released by the police, identifying him as a "person of interest." However, authorities have not yet recovered the weapon used in the crime, and a motive for the shooting has not been determined.

The arrest of the suspect provided a sense of relief for the university community, but questions still linger regarding the reasons behind this tragic event. UNC Police Chief Brian James expressed the importance of understanding the motive and learning from the incident to prevent such occurrences in the future.

As the investigation continues, the campus remains on high alert. Classes were canceled following the shooting, and non-mandatory operations were suspended. The university is working to support the affected students and faculty during this difficult time.

/ Friday, September 1, 2023, 1:28 AM /

themes:  Shooting  North Carolina

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