Forums Dancehall Reggae A gunman killed 7 people in shootings in Half Moon Bay, California

Posted January 24, 2023 09:44 AM

Law enforcement personnel stand at the scene of a shooting Monday, Jan. 23, in Half Moon Bay, Calif. Seven people were killed in two related shootings Monday at a mushroom farm and a trucking firm in a coastal community south of San Francisco, and officials say a suspect is in custody.

Updated January 23, 2023 at 11:13 PM ET

A man killed seven people at two landscaping nurseries in Half Moon Bay in San Mateo County, south of San Francisco, on Monday, law enforcement said.

The shooter was believed to be a worker at either one or both locations and the victims were also believed to be workers, San Mateo County Sheriff Christina Corpus said.

An eighth person was at Stanford Medical Center in critical condition, she said.

The suspect was identified as Chunli Zhao, a 67-year-old Half Moon Bay resident, the sheriff's office said. He is in custody and cooperating.

The two locations are about a mile away from each other, the sheriff said. Law enforcement does not have a motive for the shooting.

Sheriff's deputies arrived at the first location around 2:22 p.m. local time and found four victims dead of gunshot wounds, with a fifth victim also wounded. Three more victims were found at the second location soon thereafter.

Zhao was found in his vehicle in the parking lot of the Sheriff's Office Half Moon Bay Police Substation at 4:40 p.m. A semiautomatic handgun was found in his vehicle, authorities said. Zhao acted alone and there is no outstanding threat to the public, the sheriff's office said.

"This is a horrific event, one that we would never imagine would occur in San Mateo County," said San Mateo County Board of Supervisors President David Pine. "Gun violence in this country is at completely unacceptable levels and it's really hit home tonight."

The shooting comes less than 48 hours after a gunman killed 11 and wounded nine at a Chinese-owned ballroom dance studio in Monterey Park, a majority Asian American suburb of Los Angeles. The suspect, a 72-year-old Asian man, died by suicide. Authorities do not have a motive for that shooting.

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7 Killed in Half Moon Bay as California Mourns Earlier Mass Shooting

The police arrested a 67-year-old suspect, who the county sheriff said was “fully cooperating.”

HALF MOON BAY, Calif. — A gunman killed seven people in two locations in Half Moon Bay, Calif., on Monday, shaking a state still mourning another mass shooting just days before.

The police arrested Zhao Chunli, age 67, of Half Moon Bay in connection with the shootings after he was found in his car in the parking lot of a San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office substation in the town, the sheriff’s office said, and there was no continuing threat to the community.

He was taken into custody “without incident” and was “fully cooperating,” Sheriff Christina Corpus said. Investigators believe he acted alone, she said.

Investigators have not established a motive, according to Capt. Eamonn Allen of the sheriff’s department. The local authorities were working with the F.B.I. and had not uncovered a criminal history or past incidents at either of the scenes, he said.


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Gov. Gavin Newsom of California wrote on Twitter that as news of the shooting broke, he had been at a hospital, meeting victims of a mass shooting on Saturday in Monterey Park. In that attack, a gunman fatally shot 11 people.

Four people were found dead at a location near Highway 92, and a fifth person with life-threatening injuries was taken from that site to Stanford Medical Center, according to the sheriff’s office. Three more people were found dead about a mile away, on the outskirts of the city.

The sheriff’s office said late Monday that it was working to identify the victims and notify their families. All the victims were adults, but some workers lived at the location of one of the shootings along with children, Sheriff Corpus said.

“It was in the afternoon, when kids were out of school,” she said. “For children to witness this is unspeakable.”

No connection between the two locations was immediately known. Sheriff Corpus said the police believed the suspect was a worker at the plant nursery where one of the attacks occurred. The gunman drove from one site to the other, she said, and a semiautomatic handgun was found in his vehicle.

Video of the substation parking lot where the suspect was arrested shows three police officers pulling him from a maroon S.U.V. They then pushed him to the ground and handcuffed him as he lay there.

The suspect spoke Mandarin and had difficulty with English, the sheriff’s office said. Investigators brought in a detective who speaks Mandarin to interview him, Capt. Allen said.

Throughout the afternoon, a nonprofit group took people by van from a crime scene to a family reunification center at the I.D.E.S. Portuguese Hall, a community center run by a religious society in downtown Half Moon Bay.

About 40 people were sheltering there on Monday evening. Among them were older people and children, including one playing with a German shepherd police dog.

Though the identities of the victims were not known, at least one of the shooting scenes was an agricultural site, where workers also lived.

Lorena González Fletcher, president of the California Labor Federation, said that many farmworkers in the region were in a vulnerable position because they have low wages and are often on temporary work visas or are undocumented. The United Farm Workers labor union has provided emergency aid in the area after the recent floods, she added.

“It’s heartbreaking to think about the families torn apart just trying to live their lives,” said Elizabeth Strater, director of strategic campaigns for the union.

At the community center, workers associated with the group who had transported people there were speaking in Spanish with some of the families, while another nonprofit organization coordinated supplies. A volunteer asked a police officer standing guard at the door what size diapers they needed.

Sarah Prentice, 31, started crying while on her way to the center to drop off blankets. “You don’t really expect these things to happen in your hometown. And I guarantee that someone I know knows someone who was killed. That’s the kind of community it is. It’s small.”

7 Dead, 1 Injured in Half Moon Bay Mass Shooting; Suspect in Custody

A motive for the deadly mass shooting – California's second in a matter of days – wasn't immediately known

Seven people were killed in a mass shooting that spanned two separate scenes in Half Moon Bay Monday afternoon, according to the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office.

Four victims with gunshot wounds were found dead at about 2:22 p.m. at a nursery along the 12700 block of San Mateo Road (Highway 92), the sheriff's office said. Another shooting victim was taken to Stanford Medical Center with life-threatening injuries.

Shortly after that discovery, three more shooting victims were found dead at another nursery along the 2100 block of Cabrillo Highway South, according to the sheriff's office.

Authorities identified the suspect as 67-year-old Half Moon Bay resident Chunli Zhao. He was taken into custody without incident at about 4:40 p.m. after he was found in his vehicle in the parking lot of the sheriff's office substation in Half Moon Bay, the sheriff's office said. A semi-automatic handgun was found in his car.

Zhao shot three of his victims in the trailers where they lived next to the field where they worked, and then gunned down two others in the field itself, officials said.

"They were farmworkers affected tonight. There were children on the scene of the incident. This is truly a heartbreaking incident in our community," said Supervisor Ray Mueller.

Authorities believe Zhao acted alone, San Mateo County Sheriff Christina Corpus said. A motive for the shooting spree wasn't immediately known.

The victims are believed to be workers on the properties, Corpus said. Half Moon Bay Councilmember Debbie Ruddock said the victims are Chinese farmworkers.

"This is a devastating tragedy for this community and the families touched by this unspeakable act of violence," Corpus said.

A family reunification center was set up at IDES Hall, which is located at 735 Main St. in Half Moon Bay.

The shootings in Half Moon Bay come on the heels of a weekend mass shooting in the Southern California city of Monterey Park that left 11 people dead.

"This kind of shooting is horrific," Corpus said. "It's a tragedy that we hear about far too often, but today it's hit home here in San Mateo County."

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said he was meeting with victims of the Monterey Park shooting when he learned about the mass shooting in Half Moon Bay.

"Tragedy upon tragedy," he said in a tweet.

Other local, state and federal leaders issued similar sentiments.

This is a developing story. Details may change as more information becomes available. Stay tuned for updates.

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