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Who is Tailei Qi? UNC-Chapel Hill graduate student charged with murder in shooting of faculty member

Tailei Qi, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Ph.D. student charged in the fatal shooting of an associate professor on Monday afternoon, appeared in court for the first time on Tuesday.

Tailei Qi allegedly murdered Zijie Yan, an associate professor in the Department of Applied Physical Sciences, with a 9 mm pistol Monday afternoon, prompting a lockdown on UNC-Chapel Hill’s campus as students began their first week of classes.

Who is Tailei Qi ?

Tailei Qi
Tailei Qi has been charged by the UNC Police Department with first-degree murder and possession of a weapon on educational property. (Hannah Schoenbaum)

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The 34-year-old Chinese citizen, who is charged with first-degree murder and possession of a gun on educational property, appeared in an orange jumpsuit in an Orange County courtroom on Tuesday afternoon.

An Orange County judge denied bond for the suspect and set a probable cause hearing for Sept. 18.

UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz described the faculty loss as “devastating” during a Monday press conference, saying, “This shooting damages the trust and safety that we so often take for granted in our campus community.”

UNC Chapel Hill shooting suspect

Tailei Qi
Authorities have not said if Tailei Qi specifically targeted Yan and have not revealed a motive behind the killing. (Hannah Schoenbaum)

Authorities have not said if the suspect specifically targeted Yan and have not revealed a motive behind the killing. No other injuries were reported.

Qi was a Ph.D. student and in the same research group as Yan, according to the school’s website.

Authorities said shots were fired around 1 p.m. at Caudill Laboratories on Monday, where Yan was apparently found dead in a lab building.

Tailei Qi was taken into police custody around 2:30 p.m.

The university canceled classes for the remainder of Monday and through Tuesday. Tailei Qi faces life in prison if convicted.

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Simon Kabutey
Simon Kabutey
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