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UNC-Chapel Hill Graduate Student Charged with Fatally Shooting Professor

A graduate student at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Tailei Qi, has been charged with first-degree murder for fatally shooting professor Zijie Yan. The incident has left the college community in Hillsborough reeling as authorities work to determine the motive behind the shooting. Qi, an applied physical sciences major from China, appeared in Orange County Court, where he was ordered to be held without bond. He was also charged with possession of a gun on an educational property, which is expected to be upgraded to a felony. The district attorney, Jeff Nieman, stated that he would not seek the death penalty for Qi.

According to a fellow student, Aidan Carter Scott, Yan had been one of Qi’s advisors. Scott mentioned that Qi struggled with the course material but seemed well-intentioned. Qi’s LinkedIn profile indicated that he enrolled at UNC in January 2022 as a graduate student and research assistant. The university department web page listed Qi as a member of Yan’s lab group, although it has since been removed.

The shooting took place at Caudill Labs, a science building on the UNC campus, prompting an hourslong lockdown. Students and faculty barricaded themselves in classrooms and dorms while authorities searched for the suspect. Qi was apprehended in a residential neighborhood near campus. No other injuries were reported, and the lockdown was lifted after law enforcement verified the suspect’s identity and investigated potential other victims.

UNC Police Chief Brian James declined to provide details on whether others were present during the shooting. Investigators are still determining the nature of the relationship between Qi and Yan and are examining Qi’s social media accounts for further insights. Qi had previous encounters with law enforcement, including a recent speeding citation.

UNC-Chapel Hill’s chancellor, Kevin Guskiewicz, announced that classes would be canceled the following day, and the campus’ Bell Tower would ring in honor of Yan. Guskiewicz expressed the university’s commitment to improving safety procedures and acknowledged that the wounds from this tragedy would take time to heal.

Author: CrimeDoor

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