Terrified North Carolina University students had to jump out of a first-story window to escape a gunman, as a Wuhan-educated physics graduate is arrested for shooting dead a member of staff.
One person has died during the incident at UNC, according to WRAL, and a ‘person of interest’ has been arrested.
Video taken at the scene shows students jumping from windows at the university as the shooting unfolded.
Two young men pass their belongings out of a window before jumping from a ledge to the ground.
Pictures of the suspect Tailei Qi, who police say was involved in the shooting, show him handcuffed around a mile away from the campus after an active shooter alert was issued.
Qi can be seen in an image provided to WRAL sitting on the ground and looking down with his hands behind his back, wearing a dark shirt and glasses.
Footage shows the suspected assailant being put into the back of a police car by officers after being apprehended.
VIDEO: Students jumped out of windows at the University of North Carolina during today’s shooting pic.twitter.com/Ok74k94K92
— BNO News (@BNONews) August 28, 2023
Police have now issued an ‘all clear’ message, with sources claiming they had been searching a property close to where Qi was arrested on Williams Circle.
The UNC graduate student previously studied at Wuhan University in 2015, has been pictured as someone UNC police want to speak to in connection with the incident.
DailyMail.com can reveal that the physics student has been working as a research assistant at the university since 2022.
According to the UNC website, the suspect image matches an ID photo for Qi, who is studying at the Department of Applied Physical Sciences.
Qi also claims to have previously attended Louisiana State University, where he obtained a master’s in material science in 2021.
During a press conference on Monday evening, investigators said that they had not yet discovered a motive behind the shooting.
Officials also confirmed that no charges had yet been brought against Qi, and would not confirm the identity of the deceased member of staff.
Investigators also said that they had not yet recovered the weapon used in the shooting.
Friends of the alleged shooter said that he seemed ‘nice ‘ and was ‘very quiet’ when they studied together.
Ayden Scott told WRAL: ‘I would have never guessed that he would be the kind of person who’d could possibly be capable of this kind of thing. He was always very quiet.’
‘Every single time he would talk to me, he seemed very nice. When I saw his face in the reports online, I was beyond shocked.’
Authorities initially sent out a warning for an ‘armed and dangerous person’ in the vicinity of the school’s Caudill Labs in Chapel Hill at 1pm.
FBI investigators have arrived on the scene, along with state police, as footage from the scene shows a bullet hole through a window on the campus.
In a statement, police said: ‘This photo shows a person of interest in today’s armed and dangerous person situation. If you see this person, keep your distance, put your safety first and call 911.’
The applied physical sciences student posted on social media last month asking for help making friends.
He said: ‘Would like to make some new friends. I am a second-year PhD student, interested in nanoparticle synthesis, optical trapping, self-assembly, spectra analysis, and ML.
‘A bit stupid in daily trifles, very enthusiastic talking about research.’
Last month Qi shared a paper that he had written on optical binding on LinkedIn, which was published in his name as well as two others – including his adviser.
Prior to his studies at UNC and LSU, Qi was a research assistant for almost two years at the Southern University of Science and Technology in Guangdong, China, and a researcher at the Suzhou Advanced materials Research Institute.
He graduated from Wuhan University with a minor in Business Administration and Management, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Physics.
Footage of the scene showed staff and students draped in their chemistry coats being led out of the building as dozens of cops swarmed the campus.
A man was reportedly arrested, handcuffed and questioned before being let go when cops realized he posed no threat. It is unclear if he is the same man that officers are now searching for.
UNC confirmed the campus ‘remains on lockdown as the active assailant situation continues.’
The alert was issued at 1pm, with police advising staff, faculty and students to shelter inside until further notice.
A huge emergency services presence has descended on the campus, with armed officers swarming the school. At least four agencies are responding to the scene.
— ABC11 EyewitnessNews (@ABC11_WTVD) August 28, 2023
Reports of shots fired at UNC Chapel Hill.
Cops looking for Asian male in Silver Nissan sedan, license plate TJN-4072, per scanner just now.
It sounds like there may be at least two victims. EMS on scanner just said “additional victim in room 159 at Caudill labs. pic.twitter.com/C7mtnvyYf2
— LAUREN (@LaurenRock) August 28, 2023
Lecturer Noel Brewer said that his office was ‘on lockdown’ because of an ‘active shooter somewhere nearby’.
He said: ‘On lockdown in my office with staff and colleagues. Active shooter somewhere nearby. Perhaps near genome sciences. I heard that a student was shot’.
PhD student Jake Sirlin posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, saying that there was an ‘active shooter’.
He said: ‘There is currently an active shooter at UNC in the chemistry building. At least one person has been shot. I am still in hiding.
‘Please reach out to any loved ones you have on campus and especially in the department. I have never been more scared.’
UNC Hospitals has yet to receive any patients related to the incident, according to a spokesman.
As of 2pm the University confirmed that the situation on campus was still ongoing, urging those not on campus to stay away.
All Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools are in secure mode, meaning all building doors are closed and locked.
The school district said elementary schools will not dismiss students until there is an all clear given at UNC.
In a statement they said: ‘As a safety precaution, schools have been directed not to release students to their families at this time.’
UNC’s Board of Trustees’ special meeting and the Faculty Executive Committee’s meeting are both canceled for Monday afternoon.
Governor Roy Cooper said in a statement: ‘My office is in communication with law enforcement and officials at UNC-Chapel Hill who are taking precautions to protect campus safety following today’s shooting.
‘This is a tragic way to start a new semester and the state will provide any assistance necessary to support the UNC community.
‘I have spoken with Orange County Sheriff Blackwood and Dept of Public Safety Secretary Buffaloe and pledge all state resourced needed to capture the shooter and protect the UNC campus.’