COVID-19 Researcher Killed in Murder-Suicide, Police Say It’s Not Related to Research

Officials add there was 'zero indication that there was targeting due to his being Chinese'
May 6, 2020 Updated: May 6, 2020

A University of Pittsburgh professor who was researching COVID-19 was shot and killed in a murder-suicide over the weekend, authorities said.

A researcher, Bing Liu, was found dead in his home on Saturday with gunshot wounds to the torso, neck, and head, according to the Ross Police Department in Pennsylvania.

Detective Sgt. Brian Kohlhepp told CNN that there is “zero indication that there was targeting due to his (Liu) being Chinese.” Police said that a second man, who was found dead in his vehicle, shot Liu before returning to his vehicle and killing himself.

The University of Pittsburgh also confirmed Liu’s death in a statement this week.

Officials identified the suspect as 46-year-old Hao Gu, and officials believe that the murder-suicide was not connected to Liu’s research on the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, a novel coronavirus that emerged in China last year.

“We haven’t had anything at this point that has come to the investigation that has anything to do with Mr. Liu’s employment or his research,” Kolhepp told WTAE, an ABC affiliate station.

Police said Liu and the man who shot him had known each other, although authorities haven’t made reference to a motive for the shooting.

Liu, meanwhile, was a researcher at the Pitt School of Medicine, according to the university.

“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,” the department said in a statement, referring to another name of the CCP virus, which causes COVID-19. “We will make an effort to complete what he started in an effort to pay homage to his scientific excellence.”

It added that it is “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.”

Members of the university’s School of Medicine said he was an outstanding researcher and will complete Liu’s research “in an effort to pay homage to his scientific excellence.”