Half Moon Bay shooting: 7 killed in apparent case of ‘workplace violence,’ sheriff says

HALF MOON BAY, Calif. — Seven people died and an eighth was injured Monday afternoon in a pair of shootings at mushroom farms in Half Moon Bay.

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San Mateo County Sheriff Christina Corpus said authorities arrested Chunli Zhao, 67, hours after the shootings after he was found in the parking lot of the sheriff’s office police substation in Half Moon Bay. She said the shooting appeared to be an “instance of workplace violence.”

Update 7:27 p.m. EST Jan. 24: San Mateo County Sheriff Christina Corpus in a Tuesday evening news conference that the victims who were killed were five men and two women, according to CNN. This is a correction from an earlier report in which Corpus said it was seven men and one woman.

Corpus said that another man is in stable condition at the hospital.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom joined the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office in the news conference Tuesday evening. Newsom said that mass shootings have become a phenomenon in America. He talked about speaking with Chinese immigrants through translators in the wake of the mass shooting in Half Moon Bay and said that the translators had a hard time translating what happened.

“Their friends got shot, killed. They went over, people had been shot, and they thought they were acting. They’d never heard a sound like that, they’d never seen a scene like that, they didn’t even know how to comprehend a gunshot wound. That’s not something they ever experienced, let alone comprehend that,” Newsom said.

- Jessica Goodman, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

Update 12:50 p.m. EST Jan. 24: San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said Zhao will be arraigned Wednesday afternoon on charges that have yet to be determined.

Wagstaffe said prosecutors will review the information given to them by the sheriff’s office in connection with the case to determine possible charges.

“We will make that decision later today or tomorrow morning,” he said. “The case is at the beginning stage. It has a long road to travel over the coming months and years, and to that extent, we don’t want to try it out in the public eye.”

Zhao is scheduled to be arraigned at 1:30 p.m. local time Wednesday.

— Theresa Seiger, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

Update 12:40 p.m. EST Jan. 24: San Mateo County Sheriff Christina Corpus identified the people shot Monday in Half Moon Bay as seven men and one woman of Hispanic and Asian descent. One person who was shot and hospitalized was out of surgery and in stable condition on Tuesday, the chief said.

The shootings took place first at Mountain Mushroom Farm, where Zhao was employed, and at Concord Farms.

“(The) only known connection between the victims and the suspect is that they may have been coworkers,” Corpus said Tuesday at a news conference. “All of the evidence we have points to this being the instance of workplace violence.”

The sheriff said the semi-automatic handgun used in the shooting was legally purchased and owned.

— Theresa Seiger, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

Update 9:10 a.m. EST Jan. 24: The owners of Concord Farms, where a gunman killed four people and injured a fifth on Monday afternoon, said in a statement Monday to CNN that they had “no past knowledge with this gunman or his motives.”

“We are shook and very eager to gain more information from the authorities and their investigations,” the statement read. “Our hearts are with the victims, their families and the Chinese American community — from Half Moon Bay to Monterey Park.”

Monday’s shooting happened days after a gunman opened fire at a ballroom dance club in Monterey Park, east of Los Angeles, killing 11 people and injuring several others.

— Theresa Seiger, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

Update 8:02 a.m. EST Jan. 24: President Joe Biden has released a statement on Monday’s shooting. Biden said he and the first lady are praying for the victims.

The president added that he is directing his administration to support the community as well as using the statement as a platform to call for the passage of the assault weapons ban legislation.

“Following a briefing from my homeland security team, I have directed my administration to ensure local authorities and the broader Half Moon Bay community have the full support of the federal government in the wake of this heinous attack.

“Yesterday, Senator Feinstein — alongside Senators Murphy, Blumenthal and others — reintroduced a federal Assault Weapons Ban and legislation that would raise the minimum purchase age for assault weapons to 21. Even as we await further details on these shootings, we know the scourge of gun violence across America requires stronger action. I once again urge both chambers of Congress to act quickly and deliver this Assault Weapons Ban to my desk, and take action to keep American communities, schools, workplaces, and homes safe.”

As previously reported, the alleged gunman was identified as 67-year-old Chunli Zhao, The Associated Press reported.

— Natalie Dreier, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

Update 11:45 p.m. EST Jan. 23: Officials believe that the suspect, Chunli Zhao is a worker at one of the facilities where the shootings occurred Monday, according to The Associated Press. It is also believed that the victims were workers too.

According to the AP, some of the workers at one of the locations lived on the property, and there were children who reportedly witnessed the shooting.

Update 10 p.m. EST Jan. 23: The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office in a news conference Monday evening confirmed that at least seven people were killed and one person was taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries.

The suspect was identified as Chunli Zhao, 67.

Authorities said the motive was not immediately known. It is believed that Zhao acted alone.

The coroner is expected to identify the victims.

No further information has been released. The investigation is ongoing.

Original report: The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office on Twitter Monday evening said that their office is responding to a shooting incident with multiple victims located near Highway 92 in Half Moon Bay.

Authorities said a suspect is in custody and there is no ongoing threat.

San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa told KTVU that the victims were found in two separate locations.

San Mateo County Board of Supervisors President Dave Pine told The Associated Press that four people were killed at a farm and three at a trucking business.

San Mateo County released an additional statement from Pine Monday evening.

“We are sickened by today’s tragedy in Half Moon Bay. The scourge of gun violence has sadly hit home. We have not even had time to grieve for those lost in the terrible shooting in Monterey Park. Gun violence must stop. The State of California has among the strictest gun laws in the United States, which we have strengthened through local action here, but more must be done. The status quo cannot be tolerated,” said Pine.

California State Sen. Josh Becker tweeted that people were killed in separate shootings.

“Gun violence has come to our district today and I will do whatever I can to support the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department and Half Moon Bay city officials during this tragic event,” Becker said. “We will continue to monitor this situation. My thoughts go out to all affected.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Twitter shared that he was at the hospital visiting victims of the Monterey Park shooting when he heard about the one in the Bay Area.

“At the hospital meeting with victims of a mass shooting when I get pulled away to be briefed about another shooting. This time in Half Moon Bay,” said Newsom.

CBS News reported that one crime scene was on San Mateo Road and Highway 92. The second scene was reportedly near Cabrillo Highway South and Highway 1.

KGO-TV reported that the first scene was at the Mountain Magic Farm and the second location was at the Rice Trucking-Soil Farm. In the first shooting, KGO-TV said one person is dead and three are injured critically. In the second shooting, three people are dead.

Law enforcement reportedly told CBS News that the suspect had allegedly driven himself to the substation and surrendered to deputies.

Half Moon Bay is located in the California Bay Area peninsula, about 30 miles outside of San Francisco, according to CNN.

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