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7 Dead, 1 Critically Wounded After Worker Opens Fire At 2 California Farms

Half Moon Bay, CA – Seven people were murdered and at least one more was critically wounded after a worker opened fire at two farms in the oceanside community of Half Moon Bay on Monday afternoon.

Police and medical personnel received a report about an active shooter at Mountain Mushroom Farm on San Mateo Road near the intersection of Highway 1 and Rice Trucking-Soil Farm at approximately 2:20 p.m. on Jan. 23, KGO reported.

Deputies discovered four wounded victims at that location, all of whom were deceased.

A fifth gunshot victim was rushed to Stanford Medical Center with critical injuries, KGO reported.

Deputies then learned that a second attack had occurred less than three miles away at Concord Farms located in the 2100-block of Cabrillo Highway South.

They raced to the scene, where they discovered three more people who had been fatally shot, KGO reported.

The suspect was identified as 67-year-old Chunli Zhao, who worked with all of the victims at the local mushroom farms.

Investigators said Zhao gunned down two of the victims in a field after shooting three other vehicles in their residential trailers next to the field, KNTV reported.

“They were farmworkers affected tonight. There were children on the scene of the incident,” San Mateo Supervisor Ray Mueller told the news outlet. “This is truly a heartbreaking incident in our community.”

Zhao was arrested without incident at approximately 4:40 p.m. after he drove up to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office (SMCSO) in Half Moon Bay and parked out in the parking lot, according to KNTV.

Investigators said they seized a semiautomatic handgun from his vehicle.

San Mateo County Sheriff Christina Corpus said it is believed Zhao was the only gunman involved in the deadly attacks, KNTV reported.

The suspect and all of the victims are Chinese-American, according to the news outlet.

A motive was not immediately released.

“I would also like to commend the deputy sheriffs for safely taking the suspect into custody,” Sheriff Corpus told reporters during a press conference.

The SMCSO is leading the investigation into the mass shootings with the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), KGO reported.

Sheriff Corpus described the massacre as a “devastating tragedy” both for the victims’ families and the community.

“It’s a big rural location so people are working, it’s spread out, there’s people that live at the location as well. So, it was the afternoon, kids were out of school and for children to witness, this is unspeakable,” the sheriff told KGO.

Many of the farms’ workers and their families live on-site at the farms and have been displaced while the crime scenes are being investigated, according to the news outlet.

Some of them were already residing in local hotels after massive rainstorms and consequential flooding damaged their homes earlier this month, KGO reported.

“My colleagues and I on the Half Moon Bay City Council are appalled and saddened at this terrible incident, which has completely shocked our community,” Half Moon Bay Mayor Deborah Penrose said in a statement.

“Our deepest sympathies are with the families and individuals who have been devastated by this horrendous act. We share in their pain and know that our community members are also keeping the victims and their families in their hearts,” Penrose continued. “Now more than ever it’s important for the community to come together and be there for one another.”

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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