A UNC-Chapel Hill graduate student has been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of an associate professor inside one of the North Carolina campus’s science laboratories on Monday, UNC police said in a statement provided to PEOPLE. Tailei Qi, 34, was charged with the murder of Zijie Yan, an associate professor in UNC’s Department of Applied Physical Sciences. The Associated Press reported that Qi will remain jailed without bail and that his next court appearance will be September 18. His public defender, Dana Graves, has not issued a public statement on Qi’s behalf and did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Qi was a graduate student in the same department and Yan was his faculty advisor, according to Qi’s biographical page at UNC, which has since been deleted, the New York Times reported. Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz said at an earlier news conference that the incident at Caudill Laboratories had left one of UNC’s faculty members dead, before the school publicly identified Yan.
On Monday, UNC police issued an alert indicating there was an “armed and dangerous person on or near campus” at 1:03 p.m. local time, prompting a campus closure. According to Police Chief Brian James, Qi was taken into custody at 2:31 p.m. local time. The university then sent out an all-clear notice at 4:14 p.m. and lifted his stay-at-home order at 4:26 p.m.
Zijie Yan Age
The age of Zijie Yan was not clear.
Zijie Yan ws shot and killed by student
James said during the press conference that Caudill Laboratories will remain closed until further notice “while tests are processed” while the investigation continues. In a statement about the loss of his fellow Tar Heel, Chancellor Guskiewicz said the UNC campus is grieving. “The wounds of this tragedy will not heal quickly,” he said. “[Yan] was a beloved colleague, mentor and friend to many on our campus.”
The historic campus bell tower rang at 1:02 p.m. EST on Wednesday to honor Yan’s memory, Guskiewicz said. A makeshift memorial was formed at the base of the tower, where people brought flowers, handwritten letters, origami art and even a molecular model to honor Yan.
UNC will also host a candlelight vigil in Yan’s honor at Polk Place at 7:30 p.m. local time on August 30. “As we return to classes and activities tomorrow, it is important that we take the time to mark the impact of this shooting, which has shaken the trust and safety of our campus,” the event notice said. “Tonight’s vigil is an opportunity to come together, listen to each other, and grieve during this difficult time. I encourage each of you to join us in recognizing the loss in our community.”
Tributes also poured in yesterday from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where Yan had studied, and from Tulane University, where Doug Chrisey, his former adviser, recalled publishing 17 articles with Yan, according to the News & Observer. “He was knocking on my door with incredible experimental results and a big smile,” Chrisey told the newspaper. “He left feeling like he didn’t understand anything about nanoparticle nucleation and growth, but still with a big smile.”
The professor’s former advisor also told the newspaper that he was impressed by Yan’s selflessness and that he regularly helped his lab mates, without even considering the recognition he would receive in return. “He had a sweet, calm face, and everything about his personality was consistent with that,” Chrisey said. Read More…..