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UNC Graduate Student Charged with Murder of Faculty Member

August 29, 2023

A tragic incident unfolded at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a graduate student was charged with the fatal shooting of a faculty member. UNC police confirmed in a news release that Tailei Qi, the graduate student, faces charges of first-degree murder and having a gun on educational property. During his court appearance, Qi remained silent on the charges, and his plea was not entered. He was subsequently ordered to be held without bond.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The victim, Zijie Yan, an associate professor in the department of Applied Physical Sciences at UNC, tragically lost his life in the incident. Yan had been part of the university community since 2019.

Details emerged that Qi was a graduate student in the same department and Yan was his faculty adviser. Although Qi’s UNC biographical page, now removed but accessible on the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, provided insights into their academic relationship, the page has been deleted. Qi had joined UNC in 2022 and had previous educational experiences at Louisiana State University and Wuhan University.

Qi, a citizen of China on a U.S. visa, appeared in court wearing an orange jail outfit with his hands cuffed. He utilized an interpreter and was assigned a public defender. District Attorney Jeff Nieman indicated that the gun possession charge was related to a 9 mm handgun. The weapon itself was still being sought by the authorities.

Conviction on the murder charge could result in a minimum sentence of life in prison without parole, while the weapons charge could carry up to two years in prison. Although the death penalty is the maximum sentence for first-degree murder in North Carolina, Nieman’s office has expressed a policy against pursuing it.

The shooting, which occurred in the early afternoon, led to the university being put on lockdown for several hours. The incident took place within the Caudill Laboratories, a building dedicated to chemistry studies. The arrest of the suspect took place approximately 90 minutes after the shooting.

University police issued alerts to students, urging them to remain indoors, close windows and doors, and await further instructions. The campus activities and classes were canceled in the aftermath of the shooting. UNC Chapel Hill Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz expressed his condolences and vowed to work towards rebuilding trust and safety within the campus community.

The tragic event resonates in a year marked by school shootings in the U.S. The incident is the 34th to occur on K-12 campuses and the 15th on university and college campuses. The FBI is assisting with the evidence collection process in this ongoing investigation.

Source: CNN

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