quiet campus

‘Beloved colleague’ is lost, and a quiet campus is in mourning

The day after the unfortunate shooting incident at Caudill Labs on Monday, the campus was somber. Classes were canceled, and non-essential work was put on hold. People from various UNC System universities and across the nation showed their support and shared messages of sympathy. Mourners created impromptu memorials on the campus grounds. One of these memorials included a symbolic representation of a molecule, paying tribute to the scientific work of Zijie Yan, a respected associate professor in the College of Arts and Sciences’ applied physical sciences department, who was a victim of the shooting.

During a news conference on Tuesday, Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz expressed the deep impact of the loss. He described Yan as a cherished colleague, mentor, and friend to many on campus. Yan was also a father to two young children. Guskiewicz announced that a memorial event would take place to honor Yan’s memory. The Bell Tower tolled at 1:02 p.m. on Wednesday, followed by a campus stillness. A Polk Place vigil was scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. In case of rain, the vigil would be moved to the Dean E. Smith Center.

The University made the decision to cancel classes and keep most campus offices closed on Wednesday. However, normal operations were planned to resume on Thursday.

Messages of sympathy and support

After the tragedy, people all over the country expressed their support and condolences for the Tar Heel community through emails and social media.

Veronica Mora Flaspoehler ’08, the President of the General Alumni Association, reached out to alumni, emphasizing the concept of the Carolina Family during difficult times. She mentioned that even though they were grieving, they would find a way to move forward together.

The University of Virginia shared a poignant photo on Instagram, showing a building on their Charlottesville campus beneath a beautiful Carolina Blue sky. The caption read, “Today, the sky over Grounds is Carolina Blue.” Duke University also joined in solidarity, dedicating their Chapel carillon recital to Carolina’s alma mater and tweeting that they were standing with their friends and colleagues at UNC.

University governing bodies also conveyed their support. David L. Boliek Jr., the Chair of the Board of Trustees, extended thoughts and prayers to the Yan family, especially his young children, and the entire university community. He emphasized their commitment to providing resources for mental health and support services, as well as campus safety.

The UNC System Board of Governors, represented by Chair Randy Ramsey, recognized the profound loss caused by Dr. Zijie Yan’s passing. Ramsey thanked the various individuals and organizations, including those from the UNC System and law enforcement, who offered assistance and empathy in response to the tragic events. He emphasized the Board’s solidarity with their friends and colleagues at Carolina.

The widespread messages of support highlighted the strength of the community during such a challenging time.

Investigation details

During the news conference held on Tuesday, UNC Police Chief Brian James provided a more detailed account of the events that unfolded during Monday’s tragic shooting incident at Caudill Labs.

The individual responsible for the incident, identified as the suspect Tailei Qi, drove onto the campus and entered Caudill Labs. Once inside, the suspect specifically targeted the victim and carried out the shooting. Immediately after, the suspect left the building and departed the campus on foot, according to Chief James.

Chapel Hill police arrested Tailei Qi on Williams Circle, two miles north of campus. Doctoral student Qi is being jailed without bond at Hillsborough’s Orange County Jail. He is charged with first-degree murder and handgun possession on school grounds.

Reminders about resources

UNC-Chapel Hill’s Human Resources office and Student Affairs have shared updates regarding the availability of mental health support resources for those affected by the recent events.

For employees, the Employee Assistance Program will have dedicated counselors ready to assist on Wednesday. They are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Chapman Hall room 125 and via phone at 704-525-5850. The complete employee message has further details.

Students can call 919-966-3658 for 24/7 CAPS (Counseling and Psychological Services) support. Explore other Counseling and Psychological Services services.

The University’s hotline is 919-918-1999 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Wednesday. The University’s Heels Care Network provides greater mental health resources to students, instructors, and employees.

Provost and Chief Academic Officer J. Christopher Clemens, along with other campus leaders, shared a message about resuming operations with empathy and understanding. The message encouraged faculty to transition back into teaching with a mindful approach and to openly acknowledge the emotions tied to the events that occurred on Monday.

For the most recent updates from the University, including details about the campus’s response to the shooting incident at Caudill Labs, stay connected by referring to the latest updates provided under the heading “Campus grieves after shooting at Caudill Labs.”

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