A University of Pittsburgh professor who was “on the verge of making very significant findings” about COVID-19 was fatally shot in Pennsylvania over the weekend, authorities say.
Bing Liu, a 37-year-old research assistant professor, was found dead in a home Saturday with gunshot wounds in his head, neck, torso and an extremity, according to the Allegheny County medical examiner.
An hour later, a second person, 46-year-old Hao Gu, was found dead in a vehicle less than a mile away, according to the agency.
Investigators believe Gu killed Liu in his home before returning to his car and taking his own life, Detective Sgt. Brian Kohlhepp of the Ross Police Department said in a statement.
Police believe the men knew each other and that the homicide was “the result of a lengthy dispute regarding an intimate partner,” Kohlhepp said.
“We have found zero evidence that this tragic event has anything to do with employment at the University of Pittsburgh, any work being conducted at the University of Pittsburgh and the current health crisis affecting the United States and the world,” Kohlhepp said.
Kohlhepp said because those involved were not United States citizens, the police department’s review is being forwarded to federal authorities.
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Liu earned a Ph.D. in computational science from the National University of Singapore, studied as a postdoctoral fellow at Carnegie Mellon University and went on to become a research associate at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
In a statement, his colleagues described him as a “prolific researcher” who published more than 30 papers and was an “excellent mentor.”
“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 statement said. “We will make an effort to complete what he started in an effort to pay homage to his scientific excellence.”
The university also released a statement saying 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.”
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Coronavirus researcher killed in apparent murder-suicide: Pa. police