Local police announced Monday that an active shooter on the University of North Carolina’s (UNC) Chapel Hill campus shot and killed a faculty member. Active shooter alerts and sirens caused students, staff and faculty members at the famed southern US university to barricade themselves into classrooms and offices Monday afternoon. About an hour and a half later, police had a suspect in custody. The shooting has renewed calls across the US for stricter gun laws, especially affecting college campuses and schools.
The shooting broke out in Caudill Labs, a science building in the middle of UNC Chapel Hill’s campus, around 1:00 PM local time. Shortly after, the school activated its active shooter alerts and placed the entire campus under lockdown. Students, staff and faculty members captured photographs and videos of each other barricaded in classrooms and offices across campus as police searched for the shooter. A little after 2:30 PM local time, police apprehended the suspected shooter—who sources have identified as UNC Chapel Hill graduate student Tailei Qi. The campus remained in lockdown until closer to 4:15 PM local, at which point the school issued an “all clear.”
Following the lifting of the campus-wide lockdown, UNC Chapel Hill canceled classes for the rest of Monday evening and Tuesday. Monday marked the start of the second week of fall semester classes for students at UNC Chapel Hill.
Calls for gun law reform came swiftly after news of the shooting broke Monday. Gun control advocacy group March For Our Lives said, “We will continue to die in our schools and campuses until our lawmakers do something. We are not living; we are barely surviving.” Students from UNC Chapel Hill echoed similar sentiments on social media, with one writing, “This shouldn’t happen. We shouldn’t have to go to class in fear of our lives. We need legislative change.”
Earlier in March, North Carolina lawmakers overrode a veto from Governor Roy Cooper to enact less restrictive gun laws. With the veto, lawmakers passed a law that allows North Carolinians to purchase a gun without first obtaining a permit from the sheriff or a background check. At the time, North Carolina state lawmakers from the Republican-controlled Senate stated the law “guaranteed and secured Second Amendment rights for North Carolinians.”
School and college shootings have become increasingly common in the US since the infamous 1999 Columbine High School shooting in Colorado. As of 2022, there have been an additional 386 school shootings since 1999, with 46 taking place in 2022 alone.
In 2002, JURIST contributor and 2000 presidential election guide editor Anthony Sutin, Dean of the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, Virginia, was shot and killed at the law school by a disaffected student, whose attack also killed and injured several others. Today JURIST’s highest honor, the Sutin Prize, annually commemorates Dean Sutin and his commitment to JURIST, public service, and the rule of law.