University of Pittsburgh professor and coronavirus researcher Bing Liu, 37, was shot and killed in what police are saying was a murder-suicide. According to CNN, Liu was on the verge of making a major discovery regarding the coronavirus.
“Bing was on the verge of making very significant findings toward understanding the cellular mechanisms that underlie SARS-CoV-2 infection and the cellular basis of the following complications,” said his colleagues from the University’s Department of Computational and Systems Biology.
One of Liu’s colleagues at the School of Medicine, Ivet Bahar, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that “he was just starting to obtain interesting results. He was sharing with us, trying to understand the mechanism of infection, so we will hopefully continue what he was doing.”
The CNN article says her sentiments were echoed by several of Liu’s fellow researchers, who pledged to continue his research in honor of his memory and “to pay homage to his scientific excellence.”
The Ross Police Department claim that Liu’s body was found in his townhouse on Saturday. He had visible gunshot wounds in his neck, head, torso and several extremities.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports the assailant’s name was Hao Gu. The 46-year-old allegedly shot and killed Liu and then returned to his car, which was parked about 100 yards away from Liu’s residence, and killed himself. That said, Gu’s official cause of death is still pending with the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Per the newspaper article, neighbors did not hear any gunshots, no items were stolen from Liu’s residence, and his wife was not home at the time of the alleged murder-suicide.
Bahar told reporters that they noticed something was off over the weekend when they had not heard from Bing, who she said usually checked in daily while they were working from home. However, she also noted that he never seemed concerned about his safety. Police are still trying to determine if a confrontation with Gu preceded his death.
CNN quoted Detective Sgt. Brian Kohlhepp, who made a statement saying he does not believe the murder was motivated by anti-Chinese racism. However, the authorities do think the two men knew each other, but they have not yet shared a possible motive.
The university released an official statement on Liu’s death, saying it was “deeply saddened by the tragic death of Bing Liu, a prolific researcher and admired colleague at Pitt. The University extends our deepest sympathies to Liu’s family, friends and colleagues during this difficult time.”
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741. For readers outside the U.S., visit Suicide.org or Befrienders Worldwide for international resources you can use to find help.