Weapon used in UNC shooting not recovered, authorities say

Authorities are searching the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus Tuesday for the gun used to kill a UNC professor Monday.

Authorities charged 34-year-old Tailei Qi with the first-degree murder of Professor Zijie Yan inside Caudill Labs. Qi appeared in court for the first time Tuesday.

The shooting forced UNC and surrounding schools into lockdown while police searched for Qi.

While authorities took Qi into custody hours after the shooting in a Chapel Hill neighborhood, they did not find the gun used for the shooting.

Investigators with Campus Police, Chapel Hill Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation were searching the campus and surrounding residential areas for the weapon.

As of 9:45 p.m., authorities are still searching.

Defense attorney Daniel Meier, who’s not part of the case, said the need for the gun will depend on the evidence the prosecution and investigators have.

“For a typical homicide, it’s not that critical,” Meier said. “A lot of it is to trace back and see if they can tie that weapon to the individual, which makes [the case] stronger.”

During a press conference Tuesday, UNC Police Chief Brian James said investigators are exhausting all options to recover the weapon and find a motive for the shooting.

“[We’re] certainly looking for any information out there that may have indicated what his intentions were and why he did this,” James said.

Authorities are trying to learn where Qi obtained the gun in the shooting.

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