The 37-year-old assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Bing Liu who had done his PhD from the National University of Singapore was found dead in his house on Saturday, April 2. In a statement from the school, it was mentioned that he was close to making "significant findings" on his studies of COVID-19.
After the death of Chinese-born Liu due to multiple shots, his connection to Coronavirus research sparked speculation that it was a planned assassination, while police say it was a murder-suicide. However, the FBI is expected to review the case and its findings if it matches up with the local police version, the case will then be closed.
A brilliant mind in the field of science
In a statement, his colleagues from the University of Pittsburgh describe Liu as an outstanding researcher who "was on the verge of making very significant findings" towards understanding the cellular mechanisms of COVID-19 disease. They also mentioned that the school will make an effort to complete what Liu had started "in an effort to pay homage to his scientific excellence."
The Chinese researcher earned his Bachelor's degree and PhD in computer science in Singapore's NUS between 2002 and 2011. Later, in 2012, he joined Carnegie Mellon University, as Post-doctoral fellow and then he started working at the University of Pittsburgh from 2014 till his death. Liu also had collaborated with biologists and clinicians to study human immunity.
The murder of Liu
The Chinese researcher was found dead with multiple gunshots to his neck, torso, head and extremities at his residence in the Pittsburgh suburbs. An hour later his body was discovered, a 46-year-old man, Hao Gu, identified as a software engineer, was found dead inside a car, less than a mile away from Liu's residence. Ross Township Police Detective Sergeant Brian Kohlhepp claimed that both the deceased men knew each other.
As per the investigators, it was Gu who killed Liu and when he was returning, he killed himself by a gunshot inside the vehicle. The investigators also revealed that it was a murder-suicide resulting from "a lengthy dispute regarding an intimate partner" and said that there was "zero evidence" the case was linked to Liu's research work and the current Coronavirus crisis.
Conspiracy theories around Liu's murder
After the news came under the spotlight, a user on the Chinese social media platform Weibo wrote that "This seems like coming straight out of Mission Impossible. Perhaps he found out that the virus originated from an American lab."
Meanwhile, other netizens said that Liu was murdered as he was about to unravel the mystery of novel Coronavirus origin. It should be noted that Chinse officials and state media earlier claimed that the deadly virus was originated in the US and later it was brought by American soldiers to initial epicentre of the outbreak in Wuhan. There are some Weibo users who said the case "seems too coincidental," and mentioned that "A very unusual case. There are likely secrets hidden in the dark."
Some of the Weibo users who came across the death news of Liu also mentioned that his Chinese background may have put him at risk in the US at this point of time, even though investigators found no evidence to support the idea that Liu was targeted because of his ethnicity. In Twitter also, some netizens claimed that the Chinese government may have played a role in the case.