A Chinese college student accused is facing charges for poisoning his Black roommate.
Former Lehigh University college student, Yukai Yang, 22, is an international student from China. He turned himself in on Thursday and has been charged with attempted homicide, aggravated assault, simple assault, and reckless endangerment, Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli told NBC.
The chemistry major allegedly made his roommate, Juwan Royal, 22, ill over a few months with small amounts of thallium. There is a possibility that Yang may have also used other chemicals.
Thallium is a toxic metal that is colorless, odorless and tasteless and can be fatal if consumed. In small amounts, it is used in the production of glass, jewelry and sometimes in fireworks.
Royal was surprised to find out that Yang had been poisoning him.
“Initially, Mr. Royal was as dumbfounded by this as everyone else, because he believed they had a fairly cordial relationship as roommates,” Assistant District Attorney Abe Kassis said.
According to NBC, Royal told police that in February he drank from a water bottle in his room and felt burning in his mouth. Yang allegedly mixed the chemicals into his roommate’s food, drinks and even into his mouthwash.
Royal then became ill multiple times in March and his symptoms got worse over time. His blood was tested, and that's when his blood tested positive for the toxic chemical, and he was treated for Thallium poisoning.
Yang was separately charged with ethnic intimidation, institutional vandalism and criminal mischief for allegedly scrawling a racial epithet on a desk in their room, authorities said.
He admitted to purchasing various chemicals with the intent of harming himself if he did poorly on exams, but he did tell the police that he mixed them in foods and drinks stored in their shared refrigerator.
“The Lehigh University Police Department has worked closely with the District Attorney's Office on the investigation and will continue to do so,” a spokeswoman for the school told NBC News. They also informed them that Yang is no longer attending the college.
“From the outset, our concern has been the health and safety of the victim of these alleged behaviors and, as such, Lehigh staff and faculty have been providing support, services and assistance.”