Father, Son ID'd in Fatal Mountain View Chemical Leak, Ruled as Suicide: Police

A man found dead Wednesday along with his teenage son at a home with a strong gas odor coming from it was the manager of the popular Milk Pail Market in Mountain View and was "highly respected and brilliant," according to the market's Facebook page.

Lian Liu, who went by the first name of James, was the brother-in-law of the gourmet foods market's owner Steve Rasmussen, according to Kai Rasmussen, James' niece and a Milk Pail employee who wrote a post Friday announcing Liu's death.

"James was a highly respected and brilliant manager, buyer, and grocer who was greatly admired by our staff, customers, and vendors alike," Kai Rasmussen wrote.

"His ability to negotiate and bargain with suppliers single-handedly enabled the Milk Pail to sell quality produce, fine cheeses and European goods at extraordinarily low prices," she wrote.

"James lived and breathed the Milk Pail," she wrote. "He poured his heart into the business, and everything he did he did with honesty and integrity. In the world of retail, James' genius was unparalleled."

Her post was followed by 193 comments as of today, according to the market's Facebook page.
Employees at the Milk Pail Market, located at 2585 California St. in Mountain View, were not immediately available for comment today on Liu's passing.

The Santa Clara County medical examiner's office today identified Liu along with his son William, 17, as the two people who were found dead Wednesday by firefighters after a report of a strong gas odor at an apartment complex at 2025 California St. in Mountain View.

An employee at the medical examiner's office said that it could take several months to determine the causes of death because of forensic testing and other aspects of the inquiry.

Shortly after 6 p.m. Wednesday, Mountain View police responded to a report of a strong gas odor coming from the apartment complex, police said.

Officers at the scene smelled the odor and called for residents at 2025 and 2017 California St. to evacuate, according to police.

Fire crews found the gas was coming from a unit at 2025 California St. and waited until gas service was turned off by PG&E to enter, according to police.

Once the gas dissipated and the scene was deemed safe to enter, fire crews went inside the unit and found the victims' bodies, police said.

Four officers exposed to the gas were treated by medics at the scene and released, police said.

About 30 to 40 residents of the apartment complex were sent to a community center on Rengstorff Avenue on Wednesday night before being allowed back home early Thursday morning, police said.

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