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Pitt researcher’s murder-suicide death not related to studying COVID-19, police say

ROSS TOWNSHIP, Pa. — A Pitt researcher studying COVID-19 for the University of Pittsburgh was one of the men killed in a Ross Township murder-suicide.

Two men were found dead from apparent gunshot wounds at The Mews of Town North on Elm Court, which is just off McKnight Road, on Saturday.

The first man was found in his home, while police found the second man dead in his car near that same home. The Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office identified the first person killed as Bing Liu, 37. On Sunday, they ruled Liu’s death as a homicide.

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The Allegheny County Medical Examiner identified the other man as Hao Gu, 46. Police announced Monday that he appears to have died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, which investigators believe happened shortly after he shot and killed Liu.

The deaths of Liu and Gu are the result of a lengthy dispute over an intimate partner, and police don’t believe the shooting had anything to do with his employment with the University of Pittsburgh nor his research on COVID-19.

Ross Township police released the following statement about the incident:

"Our investigation of the circumstances surrounding the deaths of Bing Liu and Hao Gu indicates that the actions that took place on Saturday May 2, 2020, was the result of a lengthy dispute regarding an intimate partner.

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."

Ross Township police alerted federal investigators about the case because the men involved were Chinese nationals.

Liu is described by colleagues at Pitt as having been a prolific researcher and excellent mentor. According to the university, he was on the verge of making very significant findings toward understanding the cellular mechanisms of the coronavirus. The university said it will continue the work he started.

In a statement, the University of Pittsburgh said in part:

Dr. Bing Liu was an outstanding researcher, who has earned the respect and appreciation of many colleagues in the field, and made unique contributions to science.

—  - University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

The university said it will continue the work he started.