Coronavirus researcher on verge of ‘significant findings’ found shot to death, officials say
A coronavirus researcher who the University of Pittsburgh said was on the verge of “very significant findings” was found shot to death over the weekend, officials said.
Bing Liu, a 37-year-old research assistant professor at the university, was found shot and killed in his Ross Township townhouse Saturday with wounds to the head, neck, torso and extremities, the Allegheny County medical examiner said.
A second man that NBC News identified as Hao Gu, 46, was found dead in his car less than a mile away from Liu’s home. Investigators think Gu killed Liu in his home before killing himself, Ross Police Department Detective Sgt. Brian Kohlhepp said in a statement.
Kohlhepp said an initial investigation suggests the incident resulted from “a lengthy dispute regarding an intimate partner.” Officials “found zero evidence” that the incident was related to Liu’s employment at the University of Pittsburgh, the detective added, or any work he was conducting and the current pandemic.
Federal authorities were made aware of the case as both individuals are not U.S. citizens.
The University of Pittsburgh said in a statement that it was “deeply saddened by the tragic death of Bing Liu.”
“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,” another statement from the Department of Computational and Systems Biology reads. ”We will make an effort to complete what he started in an effort to pay homage to his scientific excellence.”
Liu earned his Ph.D. in computational science from the National University of Singapore before working as a postdoctoral fellow at Carnegie Mellon University. He then moved to research at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
The coronavirus has wreaked havoc within the U.S. and around the world, infecting more than 3.6 million people worldwide and killing at least 257,906, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Updated on May 7 at 9:13 a.m.
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