OAKLAND, Calif. – Oakland police arrested two men in the killing of a beloved dentist in Oakland’s Little Saigon neighborhood, KTVU has learned.
One of those suspects is the victim’s boyfriend who was with her when she was fatally shot in their car in August.
Nelson Peter Chia, 73, the longtime boyfriend of Lili Xu, the slain dentist, killed himself in the Santa Rita jail, law enforcement told KTVU on Friday.
Jail records show that he was taken into custody Thursday on suspicion of murder.
Records also show that Hasheem Bason, 35, has also been booked for murder. His relationship to either Xu or Chia has not been made clear.
Police have not yet officially released the name of either of the suspects.
A community leader identified the woman killed during a robbery attempt in Oakland as Dr. Lili Xu, 60. Xu was a dentist who had offices in Chinatown and Castro Valley.
Surveillance video in August showed Xu and her boyfriend pull up in their Mercedes to park on the side of the street – indicating that Chia could not have been the shooter.
Within seconds, a white Lexus pulls up alongside them. Then screams and three gunshots can be heard.
Whoever was driving the Lexus has not been made public.
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“For some unknown reason the individual fired multiple rounds, striking the victim,” Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong said at the time.”This crime was senseless, unfortunate, and the Little Saigon neighborhood has been impacted by violence the last several weeks.”
Xu’s death drew hundreds to a vigil, where community members remembered her as a wonderful dentist and avid ballet dancer at the East Bay Shi Ballet School.
Booking photos of Nelson Chia, 73, and Hasheem Bason, 35, who are being held in the killing of Chia’s longtime girlfriend, dentist Lili Xu, in Little Saigon.
At the time, some assumed that Xu’s death was a racist attack on an Asian-American woman in an attempted robbery gone bad. But the arrests of her boyfriend and another man now appear to contradict this assumption.
Oakland Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas released a statement at the time, calling for justice for the woman, who was killed near 5th Avenue and East 11th Street.
“I am outraged and sickened over the senseless, brutal slaying of an elderly AAPI woman in broad daylight this afternoon in Oakland’s Little Saigon,” Bas said. “There was an attempted robbery in the middle of the afternoon, she was shot and killed.”
Community members also assumed that this was a random act of violence and that her ethnicity had something to do with her death.
In August, Stewart Chen, president of the Oakland Chinatown Improvement Council, said, “I’m so sick and tired of hearing Asian Americans being targeted.”