Audio reveals 911 caller in University of North Carolina shooting immediately identified a suspect

Aug 31, 2023, 3:25 PM

University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill students, faculty and family hold a candlelight vigil, Fri...

University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill students, faculty and family hold a candlelight vigil, Friday, Aug 30, 2023, in Chapel Hill, N.C., in honor of professor Zijie Yan who was shot and killed on campus on Monday. (Travis Long/The News & Observer via AP)

(Travis Long/The News & Observer via AP)

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Police in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where a professor was fatally shot on a college campus this week, received information on the suspect’s identity within minutes of the gunfire, according to a recording of the 911 call.

Some portions of the audio sound redacted, but what was released describes the first moments after Monday’s shooting of Associate Professor Zijie Yan inside a science building in the heart of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Police said they arrested Tailei Qi, 34, of Chapel Hill, without force off campus less than two hours after the shooting.

Qi was charged early Tuesday with first-degree murder and a weapons count and jailed without bond. Yan was Qi’s faculty adviser and Qi worked with Yan’s research group.

The attack and hours-long lockdown terrified students and faculty who returned last week for the start of the fall semester. Several hundred people attended a candlelight vigil honoring Yan on Wednesday. Classes resumed Thursday at the flagship campus.

UNC Police Chief Brian James said earlier this week that a 911 caller reported gunfire around 1 p.m. Monday at Caudill Labs, which was Yan’s primary work location. Qi was not at the building when officers arrived soon after, James said.

In the 4 1/2-minute recording released on Thursday by UNC-Chapel Hill to The Associated Press, the distressed, unidentified caller could be heard telling others to “close the doors and stay inside. There’s an active shooter.”

“Do you have a description of him?” the emergency operator asks.

“I know exactly who it is,” the caller responds, spelling out Qi’s name. “And he has a gun and he’s on campus.”

The caller then described what the suspect was wearing and said “I saw him leaving the building” in the direction of another laboratory facility next door.

“You can look him up on our website,” the caller said. “You can see a picture right there of him.”

Police later released a photo of what they called a “person of interest.”

James said Qi left Caudill Labs quickly. Police haven’t said the suspect entered another building. Qi was ultimately picked up in a Chapel Hill neighborhood.

The AP sent an email requesting comment from his public defender Thursday.

In the moments after the shooting, the caller told the 911 operator “we need immediate help.”

“You need to lock the campus down. I see students walking past this building left and right.”

Emergency sirens began within minutes of the call, authorities said, and community members received written messages telling people to go inside because an “armed, dangerous person” was on or near campus.

“Ma’am, do not open the door unless there’s an officer there,” the operator told the caller.

The caller said she believed the suspect was carrying a “short” gun.

Qi’s arrest warrant accuses him of possessing a 9mm pistol unlawfully on campus. James said a weapon hasn’t been found and that it’s too early in the investigation to offer a motive.

United States News

Actor Jonathan Majors arrives at court for his domestic assault trial, Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023, in Ne...

Associated Press

Jonathan Majors’ accuser said actor’s “violent temper” left her fearful before alleged assault

NEW YORK (AP) — Jonathan Majors’ former girlfriend told a Manhattan jury that the actor was prone to fits of rage that escalated in the months leading up to his arrest for allegedly attacking her in the backseat of a car last spring. During hours of tearful testimony on Tuesday, Grace Jabbari described Majors as […]

19 minutes ago

Associated Press

Atmospheric river brings heavy rain, flooding and warm winter temperatures to the Pacific Northwest

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — An atmospheric river has brought heavy rain, flooding and warm winter temperatures to the Pacific Northwest, closing roadways and schools as it shattered daily rainfall and temperature records in Washington state. The National Weather Service on Tuesday issued flood warnings in parts of western Washington, including in areas north and east […]

43 minutes ago

This undated family photo shows David Schultz with his two sons. Schultz’s semi-truck was found t...

Associated Press

Midwest mystery: Iowa man still missing, 2 weeks after semi holding baby pigs was found on highway

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — David Schultz’s semi-truck was found two weeks ago on a rural highway in northwest Iowa, its trailer still filled with baby pigs he was transporting. Schultz’s wallet and phone were inside, and his jacket was on the side of the road. But Schultz was nowhere to be found, and his […]

1 hour ago

FILE - Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., listens to a question during a news conference, March 30, 202...

Associated Press

Sen. Tommy Tuberville says he’s ending blockade of most military nominees

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama said Tuesday he’s ending his blockade of most military nominees, clearing the way for hundreds to be approved. Follow @ktar923

1 hour ago

Associated Press

Former DEA informant pleads guilty in 2021 assassination of Haiti’s president

MIAMI (AP) — A former confidential informant for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiring to assassinate Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, whose killing in 2021 caused unprecedented turmoil in the Caribbean nation. Joseph Vincent, a dual Haitian-American citizen who lived in the U.S. and attended meetings in South Florida and Haiti ahead […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Judge again orders arrest of owner of former firearms training center in Vermont

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — A judge has again issued an arrest warrant for the owner of a former firearms training center in Vermont, ruling that he is in contempt of court for failing to bring his property into compliance after an inspection last week. “Respondent has failed to do so. As such, imprisonment is an […]

2 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Dierdre Woodruff

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.

Follow @KTAR923...

The 2023 Diamondbacks are a good example to count on the underdog

The Arizona Diamondbacks made the World Series as a surprise. That they made the playoffs at all, got past the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Wild Card round, swept the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS and won two road games in Philadelphia to close out a full seven-game NLCS went against every expectation. Now, […]


Desert Institute for Spine Care

Desert Institute for Spine Care (DISC) wants to help Valley residents address back, neck issues through awake spine surgery

As the weather begins to change, those with back issues can no longer rely on the dry heat to aid their backs. That's where DISC comes in.

Audio reveals 911 caller in University of North Carolina shooting immediately identified a suspect