CHAPEL HILL N.C. (WNCN) — Five thousand people poured into the Dean Smith Center, to mourn the loss of a father, professor, and mentor.
Associate professor Zijie Yan died Monday after being shot by alleged gunman, graduate student, Tailei Qi.
Wednesday night, Yan’s department head, Theo Dingemans, spoke about a brilliant scientist, a passionate and caring person.
“ZiJie was one of the kindest persons that I’ve ever met,” Dingemans said. “He was soft-spoken. He was a great listener, and actually, he had a wonderful sense of humor.”
University and student body leaders also spoke about a broken sense of security that swept the campus after the more than three-hour lockdown.
“Violence is not an answer,” Dean Jim White said. “Monday’s violent act has violated our sense of the university as a safe haven.”
Speakers praised the way students and professors came together during the lockdown. They also urged the Carolina community to keep reaching out and checking in with one another.
“I have never seen a community bond together in the way that we did,” Student Body President Christopher Everett said. “On one of UNC’s darkest days. Our community stood up and stood together.”
Yan’s family sat in attendance. Department head Dingemans made a promise in honor of the fallen professor.
“He wanted us to keep educating students at this magical place. He would want us to keep doing research here at Carolina that will change the world and that is exactly what we are going to do. We will dearly miss him.”