A Lafayette man and Berkeley engineer has been charged with trying to kill a colleague by putting toxic cadmium into her food and water since 2017, according to court papers filed in support of his arrest.
Berkeley police arrested David Xu, 34, of Lafayette on Thursday. He has been charged with premeditated attempted murder resulting in great bodily harm and faces additional counts of felony poisoning after he was allegedly viewed slipping toxic cadmium into a colleague’s water bottle – acts reportedly caught on an internal security camera.
Neighbors had reported seeing police at Xu’s Lafayette home, reportedly executing a search warrant, a few days ago.
Investigators revealed that a fellow engineer of Xu’s at Berkeley Engineering and Research, at 808 Gilman St., had noticed “a strange taste or smell from her water and food” that she had left unattended in her office. Police said the woman suffered “immediate and significant health problems” after consuming the food and water, and was forced to seek emergency care at the hospital. Relatives who drank from the same bottle also fell ill, police reported.
Xu was arraigned Tuesday in Oakland.
Investigators said surveillance footage from the victim’s office showed Xu adding a substance to the woman’s water bottle on Feb. 11 and March 4, police reported. Water samples taken from the bottle on those dates “tested positive for a toxic amount of cadmium,” according to police.
Blood samples from the woman and her relatives also found “elevated levels of cadmium,” according to police. Ingesting cadmium can lead to organ system toxicity, cancer and/or death.
No motive has been given for the poisoning.
Digital records of Xu’s tenure with the Berkeley Engineering and Research (BEAR) have been scrubbed from the firm’s website, though the Berkeleyside news site found that Xu was the company’s principal engineer and had been trained in chemical, materials and mechanical engineering. He began his career at BEAR in 2009, according to Berkeleyside.
Xu received his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees at UC Berkeley.