A 44-year-old man who allegedly shot his nephew to death outside a courthouse in Medford Thursday first struck the victim with his SUV, pinning him between two vehicles before shooting him in the head, leaving 10 shell casings at the crime scene, a prosecutor said in court Friday.
Chenghai Xue was arraigned Friday in Somerville District Court on charges of murder and armed assault to murder in the fatal shooting of his 23-year-old nephew. A not guilty plea was entered on Xue’s behalf. His court-appointed lawyer didn’t immediately return an e-mail seeking comment.
Less than 24 hours earlier, Xue and his nephew, Cong Wang, had appeared on opposite sides of Cambridge District Court in Medford, where a judge declined to extend a restraining order Xue had filed against his nephew, who previously had a romantic relationship with Xue’s former wife, legal filings show.
Assistant Middlesex District Attorney Ceara Mahoney said during Friday’s brief arraignment that Medford police were alerted around 4:50 p.m. Thursday to gunshots at the Cambridge District Court.
Responding officers initially observed what appeared to be a vehicular crash in the back parking lot, Mahoney said, then saw the victim lying face up next to a black Toyota Rav4.
“The victim’s face was covered in blood,” Mahoney said. “Officers were unable to detect a pulse, and he was pronounced deceased on the scene.”
Mahoney said police saw a black firearm next to the victim and spent shell casings in the immediate vicinity. Seven or eight feet behind the gun, Mahoney said, police saw Xue lying on his stomach with his hands and legs extended. Xue’s attorney, who had represented him earlier inside the Cambridge courthouse, was seen crouching next to his client, Mahoney said.
Mahoney said, “officers observed blood on Mr. Xue’s hands and hair.”
An eye witness told police a white SUV struck a black SUV pinning an Asian man between the two vehicles, according to Mahoney.
A review of courthouse surveillance showed the victim and his lawyer leaving the courthouse at 4:46 p.m. and proceeding to a parking lot on the left side of the courthouse, according to Mahoney. Less than a minute later, Mahoney said, Xue and his lawyer begin moving in the same direction.
The footage later shows Xue entering his white Chevy Equinox, pulling out of the parking lot, and heading toward the rear of the building.
Separately, court records filed in the restraining order Xue had sought against his nephew include an Arlington police report that Xue’s former wife had filed in August 2020.
The police report said Xue’s former wife told police she and Wang had begun a romantic relationship while Xue was temporarily living in China. She told police the relationship, which had lasted until about July 2020, was the cause of her divorce from Xue.
She was back living with Xue, however, when she made the August 2020 report.
“She stated she told Wang that they had made a big mistake and they needed to end the relationship many times,” the report said. “He has not accepted the break up and has made multiple threats to her via text to end his life or her and her husband’s life if she ended the relationship.”
The woman also told police, according to the report, that “Wang believes they need to get married so he can get a Green Card to remain in the Country as he is currently here on a student VISA. She is concerned for his mental well being as she believes he suffers from mental illness. She stated Wang has been showing up at her house and church even after she has told him to stop.”
The court records included text messages Wang had allegedly sent to Xue’s former wife in August 2020, in which he wrote, “I will kill your family. If I don’t kill your family, I will commit suicide.”
Irvin Rakhlin, a lawyer who represented Wang in the restraining order proceedings, said Friday in an e-mail that Wang’s death was a tragedy, and that the judge who declined to extend Xue’s restraining order had “appropriately and thoughtfully” applied the facts to the law to arrive at the decision.
“It is deeply troubling to see a litigant in a restraining order take matters into his own hands, and perpetrate such a senseless act of violence,” Rakhlin wrote.
Court records show Xue and his wife, the mother of his two children, divorced in 2019 when the couple was living in Arlington, citing an “irreparable breakdown” in their marriage. The couple had wed in China in 2006.
Xue said in an affidavit attached to the restraining order that he “used to be a postdoc” at Harvard University and his work was analyzing cancer patient’s data for diagnosis. Harvard confirmed Friday that Xue’s appointment at the university began Dec. 1, 2010 and ended June 30, 2011.
A 2019 separation agreement filed in his divorce said Xue at the time was a shareholder in “three startup companies,” identified as My Health Gene Inc. and XELLENT Health Inc., both based in the US, and the Chinese-based Wankangyuan Gene Technology Co., Inc.
Documents filed with the Massachusetts secretary of state’s office show Xue registered a company called XELLENT BIO INC in Massachusetts in October 2021, listing himself as president of the company.
A court hearing for Xue is scheduled for May 4.
Material from prior Globe stories was used in this report. John R. Ellement of the Globe staff contributed to it.