A Ph.D. student is charged with the murder of his faculty adviser after a shooting Monday at a lab building at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, according to police records and the university.
Zijie Yan, an associate professor in applied physical sciences at UNC, died in the shooting, according to court records. Police said there were no other injuries.
Police arrested Tailei Qi, 34, in a residential area off campus Monday afternoon. He has been charged with first degree murder in connection with the shooting and is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday afternoon.
Qi is being held without bail at the Orange County Detention Center, jail records show.
Yan ran a lab with the Department of Applied Physical Sciences in Caudill Laboraties, the scene of Monday's shooting. He has been with the university since 2019.
UNC's campus in Chapel Hill was on lockdown for more than three hours Monday. The university canceled all classes Tuesday as the investigation continues.
The first 911 call about the shooting at Caudill Laboratories came in at 1:02 p.m. Monday, police said. The university sounded its sirens within minutes and alerted everyone on campus to stay inside and keep away from windows as police searched for the gunman.
Police said they arrested Qi at 2:38 p.m. The lockdown on campus continued until about 4:15 p.m. as investigators worked to confirm the suspect's identity and search for the gun used in the shooting, according to UNC Police Chief Brian James.
As of Monday evening, police had still not found the gun, James said.
James said authorities still hadn't found the gun used in the shooting Tuesday afternoon, and they are also continuing to investigate possible motives. James and UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz held a press conference Tuesday afternoon. Classes are canceled Wednesday, but will resume Thursday, and the Caudill lab will remain closed.
The slain professor joined the school faculty in July of 2019 and was the father of two children. Guskiewicz called him a father, friend and mentor and said school officials have been communicating with Yan’s family.
A moment of silence will be held in remembrance of Yan at 1:02 p.m. Wednesday.
"I am devastated and saddened by today’s shooting in one of our campus buildings, a place where we conduct our important work of teaching, mentoring and research every day," Guskiewicz said in an email late Monday afternoon.
"This shooting damages the trust and safety that we so often take for granted on our campus," the chancellor said.
Graduate school student Zach Hudspeth said the incident was shocking.
“We were kind of moving some equipment and next thing you know there’s officers running at you with their weapons drawn, telling you to get inside. Quite a shock.”
“It really did just strike close to home. Like I said, you read about these things on the news often in far away places and you never really think that it’ll happen right in your area.”
Witnesses at Caudill Lab identified Qi as the suspect, the UNC police chief said during a news conference Monday.
The university website listed Qi as a graduate student in applied physical sciences. As of Tuesday morning, it appears the university took down Qi's student profile on the department's website.
The site said Qi began at the university in 2022. The page said Qi had degrees in physics from Wuhan University in China and in material sciences from Louisiana State University.
CAPS staff will be available to talk with students on a walk-in basis in CAPS, the Carolina Union 2420 and SASB North 1118 on Tuesday. Students can also call CAPS 24/7 at 919-966-3658 to connect with a mental health professional, even after hours.
The university opened a hotline Tuesday for parents and community members who have questions. The number is 919-918-1999.