EXCLUSIVE: UNC gunman is pictured with his smiling associate professor just months before he ‘shot him dead in college physics lab’ – as suspect is charged with first-degree murder
- UNC grad student Tailei Qi has been charged for first degree murder over Monday’s shooting at the campus
- His academic advisor Zijie Yan was shot dead in the shooting
- Qi and Yan wrote several academic papers together over the last years
University of North Carolina alleged gunman Tailei Qi and his academic advisor Zijie Yan were pictured together before the grad student shot the associate professor dead on campus on Monday.
Qi, a physics PhD student at UNC, was charged for first degree murder on Tuesday and booked at the Orange County jail.
Faculty member Zijie Yan, an associate professor in the department of applied physical sciences, was the shooting’s only fatality.
Qi reportedly worked closely with Yan’s research group at UNC, which focused on nanoscience technology, as reported by WRAL News.
The shooting sent the UNC-Chapel Hill campus into lockdown.
University of North Carolina alleged gunman Tailei Qi (third form the right) is pictured with his alleged victim, associate professor Zijie Yan (second from the left)
A UNC faculty member, Zijie Yan, was shot and killed. He was the suspect’s academic advisor, it has been revealed
UNC grad student Tailei Qi has been charged with first-degree shooting over Monday’s shooting at the Chapel Hill campus
Qi (not pictured) reportedly worked closely with Yan’s research group at UNC, which focused on nanoscience technology, as reported by WRAL News.
It took about an hour and a half to lift the lockdown after the arrest because authorities were making sure they had the right suspect in custody.
The building where gunfire broke out is a stone’s throw from the school’s iconic Bell Tower and just doors down from the store that sells students books and other merchandise.
During a press conference on Monday evening, investigators said that they had not yet discovered a motive behind the shooting.
But a series of concerning social media posts have been unearthed, in which Qi complained about his UNC colleagues and slammed bullies at the school.
The graduate student previously studied at Wuhan University in 2015, and was studying at the Department of Applied Physical Sciences.
He also gained a master’s in material science in 2021 from Louisiana State University.
Last month Qi shared a paper that he had written on optical binding on LinkedIn, which was published in his name as well as two others – including his adviser and alleged victim.
The two academics wrote several papers in the last years on the effect of light on nanoparticles. Yan’s recent work focused on so-called ‘optical tweezers’ – a process that uses light to develop advanced nanorobots within cells.
UNC Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz said in a statement: ‘This loss is devastating and the shooting damages the trust and safety that we so often take for granted in our campus community.
‘We will work to rebuild that sense of trust and safety within our community and our hearts are with the family of our fellow faculty member, those who are personally connected to the victim and those traumatized by this senseless act of violence.’
Yan joined UNC in 2019 after working at Clarkson University and the University of Chicago.
Tailei Qi can be seen in an image provided to WRAL sitting on the floor near a property around a mile away from the campus, wearing a dark colored shirt and glasses