After fatal shooting, University of North Carolina’s emergency response under review

The Center for Naval Analysis is reviewing the university's emergency response following a student fatally shot a professor last September.
Aerial over the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the spring. (Getty Images)

The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill’s emergency response is being analyzed by the Center for Naval Analyses following a fatal shooting on the campus earlier this academic year, the Daily Tar Heel reported Tuesday.

While after-action reviews by third parties aren’t uncommon after an emergency situation, UNC students were quick to criticize the university’s handling of the situation, particularly when it came to the university’s emergency communications.

“An after-action review is standard for major emergency situations on campus and is needed in order to make decisions about any necessary changes,” a university spokesperson told the Daily Tar Heel.

One week after UNC’s fall semester began, associate professor Zijie Yan was shot and killed in a campus chemistry lab. Officers arrested Tailei Qi, a 34-year-old physical sciences graduate student, on first-degree murder charges two hours after the incident began.


In September, the university began gathering feedback from students, their families, faculty and staff regarding the campus shooting. Of the 3,362 completed responses, 36% were students. Most concerns surrounded the emergency notification system “Alert Carolina,” campus infrastructure, building security and training, according to a summary published by the university. Nearly half of the respondents said that the Alert Carolina updates during the shooting were “not at all useful” or just “slightly useful.”

The same day UNC sent out the survey to the campus community, the university went under a second shelter-in-place order after a firearm was brandished at a campus coffee shop. 

The Daily Tar Heel reported that the Center for Naval Analyses will conduct a four-part review process involving data collection and analysis to inform its after-action report that will be presented to campus leadership. The report is not expected to be made public, citing concerns around sensitive public safety information.

The Center for Naval Analyses is a nonprofit research and analysis organization and is the oldest federally funded research and development center in the country. The group has reviewed events such as the U.S. Capitol riot, protests following the murder of George Floyd as well as the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

In October, Michigan State University released an after-action review following a shooting on campus in February that killed three students and wounded five others. The review conducted by Security Risk Management Consultants analyzed police response and recommended improvements to campus security such as upgrades to electronic building access and door locks.

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