A man arrested for the murder-for-hire killing of a beloved dentist in Oakland, California, has apparently died by suicide, according to police.
Nelson Chia, 73, reportedly hung himself in his own cell after 2 p.m. on Friday, just hours after authorities announced his arrest alongside Hasheem Bason, the alleged gunman.
“Jail medical staff and emergency medical responders immediately began life-saving measures but unfortunately, their efforts were unsuccessful. It appears Chia took his own life in the single-occupant holding cell. There are no indications of foul play or any other suspicious activities,” the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
Earlier, police identified Chia as a longtime boyfriend of Dr. Lili Xu, a prominent 60-year-old Chinatown dentist who was slain on Aug. 21. At the time, Xu was inside a black Mercedes-Benz sedan with Chia at the intersection of East 11th St. and Fifth Ave. when a man approached her and then shot her multiple times.
OPD arrested 73-year-old Nelson Chia (left) of Oakland and 33-year-old Hasheem Bason (right) of Stockton in the fatal shooting of 60-year-old Lili Xu of Oakland. #SAFEOAKLAND pic.twitter.com/zUoDeEkNWM
— Oakland Police Dept. (@oaklandpoliceca) October 28, 2022
The gunman, now believed to be 33-year-old Bason, emerged from a white Lexus that pulled up next to the couple’s car. Surveillance footage shows the moment of the shooting, including Xu’s screams.
Chia was accused of paying Bason to kill Xu. Before Chia’s death, the two men were expected to be charged with murder. If convicted, Bason may be sentenced to life in prison or sentenced to death.
Police on Friday also disputed speculations that Xu was killed for her race. Instead, they believe Chia was motivated by financial gain.
“This case was not about race. This case was about greed,” Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong said. “Some tried to use this case as a way of dividing our community. My hope is we can come together and support Xu’s family and our community, who have all experienced this tragedy.”
Xu’s death, as well as Chia’s apparent suicide, remain under investigation.
Featured Image via Oakland Police Department