Theresa Braine, Brian Niemietz
New York Daily News
A gunman fatally shot a faculty member in a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill science building Monday, sparking an hours-long lockdown as police searched for the suspect.
The alleged shooter was arrested more than three hours later, and a campus lockdown was lifted at about 4:15. Police did not officially identify the gunman or the faculty member late Monday. Charges were pending, and authorities said it was too soon to ascertain a motive.
“This loss is devastating, and the shooting damages the trust and safety that we so often take for granted in our campus community,” Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said in a news conference Monday night.
The University of North Carolina had warned students earlier Monday afternoon of an “armed and dangerous person situation” on the school’s Chapel Hill campus.
University officials posted a photo of a “person of interest” they first became concerned about at 1 p.m., but did not officially identify him as a suspect. Subsequent social media warnings urged students to shelter in place and avoid windows.
“This is an ongoing situation,” they wrote. “Suspect at large.”
A large police presence was on campus Monday afternoon. ABC News said investigators were focusing largely on an area near the school’s bell tower. The initial report of a shooting came in from Caudill Labs, officials said at Monday night’s news conference.
An image search of the photo released by campus cops indicates a graduate student named Tailei Qi is the person of interest who police hadn’t named as a suspect, according to WRAL. A university profile describes him as a science student who previously attended Louisiana State University and Wuhan University in China.
“Continue to stay sheltered in place until all clear given. This is an ongoing situation,” UNC-Chapel Hill posted at 3:43 p.m. “Suspect at large.”
UNC Police Chief Brian James said it was unclear whether the suspect knew the victim and that the weapon had not yet been found.
“We are looking for a firearm. It is too early to determine if the firearm was legally obtained,” he said at Monday evening’s news conference.
North Carolina students began the fall semester last week. More than 30,000 students attend the school, whose famed alumni include basketball star Michael Jordan, former president James Polk, actor Andy Griffith and Giants great Lawrence Taylor.
With News Wire Services