A faculty member at UNC-Chapel Hill was tragically shot and killed on Monday afternoon, allegedly by a graduate student. The incident prompted a lockdown on the campus that lasted several hours, as confirmed by university officials and law enforcement.
The suspect in custody, identified as Tailei Qi, is a graduate student specializing in applied physical sciences. The police held a press conference in which they stated that formal charges against Qi are pending.
The identity of the deceased faculty member has not been disclosed by university officials and police, who are working to inform the family before making any public announcements.
The motive behind the shooting remains unclear at this time. However, Qi’s posts on Twitter revealed feelings of frustration, stress, and depression. Over the past year, he made a series of enigmatic posts about conflicts with fellow students and his principal investigator (PI), who is typically a faculty member overseeing students’ research projects.
It’s uncertain whether the PI mentioned in the posts is the same faculty member who was killed.
In various Twitter posts, Qi expressed a sense of invasion of his privacy and dissatisfaction with his work environment. He questioned the sincerity of some individuals around him and shared his thoughts about his academic journey. Some posts also made cryptic references to conflicts with his PI and other students.
The campus went into lockdown, with students, faculty, and staff seeking shelter in classrooms and buildings. The police released a photo of Qi as a person of interest and later took him into custody, lifting the lockdown after confirming his arrest.
Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz addressed the media, emphasizing the need for the community to come together during such tragic events. He extended his condolences to the victim’s family and expressed support for the affected students, colleagues, and staff.
UNC Hospitals also went on lockdown as a precaution, but no injuries related to the incident were reported. The lockdown was lifted, and an “all clear” was issued.
Law enforcement personnel, including the FBI, continued to investigate the area following the lockdown. Campus classes were canceled for the following day.
The shooting at UNC-Chapel Hill occurred within days of another shooting at N.C. A&T University in Greensboro. In that incident, a physical altercation escalated, resulting in injuries. The university has since increased police patrols and implemented new measures to maintain campus security.