HomeAsian AmericansProfessor killed in UNC-Chapel Hill Shooting

Professor killed in UNC-Chapel Hill Shooting

A University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill faculty member was fatally shot on campus Monday afternoon. The shooting left students and others sheltered in place for hours as police pursued the gunman.

Authorities have charged UNC graduate student, Tailei Qi, with first-degree murder in the shooting of Zijie Yan, an associate professor of the university’s Department of Applied Physical Sciences, CBS News reports.

Yan earned a bachelor’s degree in China before completing his master’s and Ph.D. at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He later received post-doctoral training at the University of Chicago. According to NC Newsline, Yan joined the university in 2019, where he had served as the academic adviser to Qi.

Qi, who received a bachelor’s degree from Wuhan University and a master’s from Louisiana State University, joined Yan’s lab in 2022.

Together, the two men coauthored several research papers about nanoscience technology.

In his tweets from the last year, Qi frequently expressed exasperation over his work, colleagues and principal investigator.

According to CNN, UNC Police revealed during a press conference on Monday that a motive was unclear as investigations continue.

“We want to ensure we gather every piece of evidence so we can determine what happened here today and why it happened,” said the university’s Police Chief Brian James. “It is too early in this investigation to know a motive for the shooting.”

His department will also be working with state and federal law enforcement agencies.

UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz issued a statement honoring Yan and sending prayers to his loved ones. The statement was distributed on campus via email and posted to UNC’s website.

“He was a beloved colleague, mentor and friend to many on our campus. My leadership team and I have met with his colleagues and family to express our condolences on behalf of our campus. Please join me in thinking and praying for his family and loved ones during this difficult time,” Guskiewicz wrote.

The chancellor also said the school will ring the Bell Tower at 1:02 p.m. on Wednesday, August 30, in Yan’s memory.

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