A University of North Carolina graduate student walked into a classroom building, fatally shot his faculty adviser and quickly left, authorities said a day after the attack paralyzed campus as police searched for the gunman. Tailei Qi, 34, was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder and having a gun on educational property in Monday’s killing of Zijie Yan inside a science building at the state’s flagship public university, the Associated Press reports. Chapel Hill police arrested Qi without force in a residential neighborhood near campus within two hours of the attack, UNC Police Chief Brian James said at a news conference. Investigators were trying to determine a motive and searching for the gun, James said. He declined to specify where in Caudill Labs Yan was killed, saying officers are still looking at evidence. Qi was already gone when a team of officers reached the building, James said.
On Wednesday afternoon, the school’s iconic Bell Tower will ring in honor of Yan’s memory and students are encouraged to take a moment of silence, he said. The school also canceled classes until Thursday.
Earlier Tuesday, Qi briefly appeared in Orange County Superior Court in Hillsborough. Judge Sherri Murrell ordered Qi to remain jailed without bond and scheduled his next court date for Sept. 18. After the hearing, Qi bowed to the judge, his Mandarin interpreter, public defender Dana Graves and the guards who took him away in handcuffs. Yan was an associate professor in the Department of Applied Physical Sciences who had worked for the university since July 2019, Guskiewicz said Tuesday. He led the Yan Research Group, which Qi joined last year, according to the group’s UNC webpage. Yan was a respected and approachable professor and research adviser who was deeply knowledgeable about the field, said Wen Liu, a 2022 graduate who worked in the lab for three years.