A Chinese man working towards a chemistry doctorate turned out to epitomize a “bad neighbor” by weaponizing chemicals to penalize upstairs neighbors he complained were too noisy.
Tampa police arrested Xuming Li on felony charges including possession of a controlled substance and burglary after upstairs neighbor Umar Abdullah videotaped him injecting chemicals into his apartment.
A hazmat test conducted by law enforcement determined the injected “liquid chemical agent contained both methadone and hydrocodone, opioid pain medications,” according to a report from WFLA.
Li pleaded not guilty to all charges, the report noted, adding an attorney for Li claimed “all of the facts will come in due course of time.”
Abdullah and his pregnant wife moved into their new Tampa, Florida, condominium in June 2022, eagerly awaiting the birth of their daughter.
The couple became acquainted with their neighbors, including Li, who lived downstairs. Not long after they settled in, they began receiving minor complaints about noise from the man living below them.
Li reportedly sent text messages to Abdullah complaining about noises he claimed to hear from the upstairs unit.
In the texts shared with 8 On Your Side, Li mentioned, “he couldn’t sleep and could hear the toilet seat being moved.”
The Abdullah family began experiencing unexplained symptoms of illness.
“I look at my daughter,” Abdullah said in a WFLA interview. “Her eyes were full of tears. She was not crying, but her eyes were full of tears.”
The family noticed a peculiar smell in their home, which some compared to nail polish remover but Abdullah found it to be even more pungent.
The family made many attempts to identify the source of the smell, including consulting an air conditioning company, a plumber and even the fire department, but the mystery remained unsolved.
“I never thought after all this that no, I’m just imagining this,” he said. “No.”
The upstairs man began to suspect his downstairs neighbor might be involved.
His suspicion led him to discover a small crack in his door, large enough for a syringe to fit through, so Abdullah installed a hidden camera outside his door.
“Even during war, the worst enemies do not attack the opponent, the other party, with chemicals,” he said.
Upon reviewing his camera footage, Abdullah saw what appeared to be Li crouching by his front door. Although the initial footage was inconclusive, after adjusting the camera angle, Abdullah captured clearer evidence.
The video seemed to show Li extracting a liquid with a syringe and then injecting it into the crack in Abdullah’s doorframe.
“The first that came to my mind — my daughter and my wife,” Abdullah said. “They need to be safe.”
He promptly evacuated his family from the home and contacted police.
Li received his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of South Florida in July, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Currently out on bond, Li is scheduled for a hearing on December 5. He faces lawsuits from Abdullah for domestic violence and from the condo association for breach of contract.
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