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Pittsburgh scientist was killed after feud over 'love triangle', NOT due to Covid-19 discovery: Police

Liu was shot multiple times, including in the head, neck, and torso, inside his home on May 2
Bing Liu (University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine)
Bing Liu (University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine)

PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA: A Pittsburgh scientist who was on the verge of making "very significant findings" related to Covid-19 was killed in a murder-suicide because of a "lengthy dispute regarding an intimate partner".

MEA WorldWide (MEAWW) previously reported on the death of Dr Bing Liu, 37, a research assistant professor at the Department of Computational and Systems Biology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pennsylvania, US.

Liu was killed on May 2 after he was shot multiple times, including in the head, neck, and torso, inside his home in the 200 Block of Elm Court in Ross townhouse.

Ross Police said Liu was shot by a man identified by the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office as 46-year-old Hao Gu. The perpetrator had been found dead from an apparent self-inflicted wound in a car that was parked near the scene of the crime, 100 yards away from Charlemagne Circle.

At the time, police confirmed that the two men knew each other in some capacity, but declined to divulge details about a possible motive or how they were connected. Sgt. Brian Kohlhepp added that there was no other suspect at large.

The BBC is now reporting that investigators have determined the men knew each other quite well and that Gu shot and killed Liu over a long-running argument about an intimate partner.

They have also ruled out the possibility that his death was linked to his work around the novel coronavirus and the current global pandemic.

Liu's area of expertise was computational modeling and analysis of biological systems dynamics and he had developed high-performance computing techniques and advanced machine-learning approaches for modeling the time evolution of complex cellular interactions, Bayesian network models and methods, and statistical model checking and sensitivity analyses.

Following his death, his department said his "loss will be felt throughout the entire scientific community" and revealed he was "on the verge of making very significant findings toward understanding the cellular mechanisms that underlie SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes Covid-19) infection and the cellular basis of the following complications."

The statement sparked wild conspiracy theories on Chinese social media that he was killed for finding something that he was not supposed to while conducting his research. 

One user suggested he had uncovered how the coronavirus had originated in a lab in America. "Oh my god, this seems like coming straight out of Mission Impossible. Perhaps he found out that the virus originated from an American lab," they wrote.

Others suggested that Liu's Chinese background may have put him at risk in the US, despite there being no evidence to suggest the murder was racially-motivated.

Authorities have been quick to squash such rumors and have insisted there is "zero evidence" to such claims.

"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.