A man has been charged with trying to kill a colleague by using a rare, deadly metal to poison her food and water

(Berkely Police)David Xu was charged with allegedly trying to poison his coworker to death.
  • An engineer from Berkeley, California was charged with attempted murder after allegedly poisoning his coworker’s food and water, court records show.
  • Security cameras allegedly caught David Xu adding a substance to his colleague’s food and water in her office, police say.
  • Authorities found high levels of the toxic metal cadmium in the water samples.
  • Exposure to cadmium can lead to cancer, and be deadly.
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An engineer in Berkeley, California has been charged with attempted murder after allegedly poisoning his coworker’s food with the rare, toxic metal cadmium numerous times over the course of nearly two years, local news site Berkeleyside reported.

Berkeley police arrested David Xu, 34, in connection with the alleged poisoning last Thursday, jail records show.

NBC Bay Area reports that in addition to the attempted murder charge, Xu has been charged with a special allegation of great bodily injury and a poisoning enhancement.

Xu and his colleague worked at Berkeley Engineering and Research. The company’s website states it has “over 25 years of experience solving complex engineering problems to help our clients,” and cites work on projects including the Golden Gate Bridge.

Xu’s colleague reported “a strange taste or smell from her water and food” that she had left in her office, according to court records cited by Berkeleyside.

The woman, who has not been named, experienced health issues after consuming the food and water, sometimes even serious enough to send her to the emergency room, police said in the records.

Two of her relatives also experienced problems after drinking from her water bottle, police said.

Authorities reviewed security footage that allegedly showed Xu adding something to food and water left in his coworker’s office on February 11 and March 4 this year, the records said. It is alleged that Xu carried out similar acts multiple times since 2017, they added.

They tested samples from the woman’s water bottle on those days, and found toxic levels of the heavy metal cadmium, authorities said. They also found high levels of cadmium in blood samples taken from the victim and her two relatives.

Police have not given any indication what motivated Xu to allegedly poison his coworker.

Exposure to cadmium can have irreversible effects on the kidney, and lead to deadly pulmonary problems like lung cancer or acute pneumonitis, according to the World Health Organisation.

The Alameda County district attorney’s office charged the engineer with premeditated attempted murder as well as two counts of felony poisoning, the court records said.

The documents show say the alleged poisoning “may have caused death and … did cause the infliction of great bodily injury.”

Xu’s arraignment is set to take place in Oakland, California on Tuesday, Berkeleyside reported.

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