August 29, 2023 – In Breaking News – TCNN
The suspect in the fatal shooting of a faculty member at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Monday is a graduate student at the school, UNC police said in a news release Tuesday.
Tailei Qi, the grad student, was charged with first-degree murder and having a gun on education property in court Tuesday. He did not enter a plea and was ordered held without bond.
The victim was identified as Zijie Yan, an associate professor in the department of Applied Physical Sciences who had worked for UNC since 2019.
The two knew each other, UNC Police Chief Brian James said Tuesday.
Qi was a grad student in the same department and Yan was his faculty adviser, according to Qi’s UNC biographical page, which has been deleted but is available on the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.
(Tailei Qi, the suspect in a deadly shooting at UNC-Chapel Hill, appeared in court on Aug. 29, 2023. He was charged with first-degree murder after investigators said he “unlawfully, willfully, and feloniously did kill and murder Zijie Yan” on Aug. 28. Courtesy of WFMY News 2 and YouTube. Posted Aug 29, 2023.)
Qi entered the school in 2022 and listed his previous education as Louisiana State University and Wuhan University, the page said.
Qi entered the courtroom Tuesday wearing an orange jail outfit with his hands cuffed in front of him. He used an interpreter and was assigned a public defender for his first appearance.
He is a citizen of China and is in the United States on a visa, District Attorney Jeff Nieman said.
Nieman said the gun possession charge was related to a 9 mm handgun. The firearm used in the shooting still has not been recovered, James said.
If convicted, Qi faces a minimum of life in prison without parole for the murder charge and up to two years for the weapons charge.
The maximum sentence for first-degree murder in North Carolina is the death penalty, but Nieman has said his office policy is to not seek the death penalty.
UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz expressed his condolences to Yan’s family and said the campus will ring the bell tower in his honor on Wednesday.
“He was a beloved colleague, mentor, and a friend to so many on our campus and a father to two young children,” he said.
(Professor Zijie Yan was identified as the faculty victim in a deadly Monday shooting that sent the UNC-Chapel Hill campus into lockdown. According to a university web page, he was the academic adviser of suspect Tailei Qi. Yan, identified as the victim Tuesday in Orange County court documents, was an associate professor in the Department of Applied Physical Sciences, where he focused on nanoscience technology. According to a university bio, he joined the faculty at UNC in 2019 after stints as an assistant professor at Clarkson University and a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Chicago. He earned his PhD in materials engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. Courtesy of WRAL and YouTube. Posted on Aug 29, 2023.)