UNC fatal shooting suspect was PhD student; remembered as quiet and nice

Tailei Qi, a doctoral student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was taken into custody on Monday afternoon in connection with the fatal shooting of a UNC faculty member.

Qi, a second-year doctoral student in applied physical sciences, was apprehended on Williams Circle about two miles north of campus at 2:40 p.m. Police surrounded Qi. He sat on a road in front of a driveway in handcuffs before being escorted to a waiting patrol car.

He was not immediately formally charged.

“To actually have the suspect in custody, it gives us an opportunity to either figure out the why and even the how and also helps us to uncover a motive and really just why this happened today,” said UNC-CH Chief of Police Brian James.

“We are looking for a firearm. It is too early to determine if the firearm was legally obtained, and we’re not prepared at this time to what kind of weapon it was.”

Qi’s relationship to the faculty member is not known, but he had been a student at UNC for more than a year.

Qi joined the Yan Research Group in January of 2022, and he studied topics such as machine learning, light matter interaction and spectra analysis.




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