UC Berkeley engineering alumnus allegedly poisoned co-worker, charged with attempted murder

UC Berkeley alumnus David Xu was arrested Thursday on charges of allegedly attempting to kill his co-worker by poisoning her food and water.

Xu, a senior materials engineer at Berkeley Engineering and Research, Inc., or BEAR, is suspected of adding toxic amounts of the metal cadmium to his coworker’s water and food between October 2017 and March 2019, according to court documents. Xu was arrested on a felony warrant Thursday for charges of inflicting great bodily harm, poisoning and willful, deliberate, premeditated attempted murder, according to Alameda County’s Inmate Locator. The story was first reported by Berkeleyside.

Court documents state that Xu’s colleague “noted a strange taste or smell from her water and food left unattended in her office” and reported “immediate and significant health problems after consuming this water and food.” Two relatives of Xu’s colleague also reported immediate health problems after drinking water from her water bottle, court documents said.
Xu’s colleague discovered that Xu was allegedly adding substances to her water bottle when she reviewed footage from Feb. 11 and March 4 with a surveillance camera in her office, court documents state. Water samples taken from her water bottle on those two days contained toxic amounts of cadmium, according to the court documents.

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Exposure to cadmium can lead to toxicity in the organ system, cancer and even death, according to court documents. Blood samples taken from Xu’s colleague and her two relatives showed elevated amounts of cadmium.

Berkeley Police Department spokesperson Officer Byron White declined to comment but said the investigation is ongoing.

Xu earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in materials science and engineering from UC Berkeley, according to his LinkedIn page.

Xu is scheduled for a plea hearing Thursday morning at the Rene C. Davidson Alameda County Courthouse, according to Alameda County’s Inmate Locator. He is currently being held without bail at Berkeley Jail.

Contact Leon Chen at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @leonwchen.