A community is in mourning this week after a gunman allegedly walked onto two farms, including one where he is said to have worked, and killed seven people. He also critically injured one other before he apparently turned himself in to authorities.
Five men and two women died in Monday’s mass shooting, according to Sheriff Christina Corpus, who spoke at a news conference in Half Moon Bay on Tuesday. The Mexican Consulate of San Francisco said that two of the people who died in Monday’s shooting were from Mexico. An eighth victim, also of Mexican ancestry, is at Stanford Medical Center.
Corpus confirmed Zhao was an employee at a mushroom, where one of the shootings took place and said that was the only connection investigators have found between 66-year-old suspect Chunli Zhao and the victims so far. Some of the victims were part of the migrant community, she said.
Six of the seven victims from Monday’s mass shooting have been identified by the San Mateo County Coroner's Office; the seventh victim has been “tentatively identified,” but the coroner’s office is withholding their name pending notification of next of kin.
The victims' names are Marciano Martinez Jimenez, 50, of Moss Beach; Zhushen Liu, 73, of San Francisco; Qizhong Cheng, 66, of Half Moon Bay; Yetao Bing, 43, who had no listed city of residence; Aixiang Zhang, 74, of San Francisco; and Jingzhu Lu, 64, of Half Moon Bay.
Zhao is set to be arraigned on Wednesday on seven counts of murder and one count of attempted murder, according to District Attorney Stephen Wagstaffe.
At Tuesday’s news conference in Half Moon Bay, Gov. Gavin Newsom addressed the crowd seeming visibly shaken.
He held up a paper with talking points that he’d written for previous mass shootings, including at the Gilroy Garlic Festival and Monterey Park, and shook his head. Reading a list of cities and schools and venues that had suffered a mass shooting, he said, “Now I have to add Half Moon Bay."
The common denominator, he said, was guns. "What the hell is wrong with us?" he asked.
Wagstaffe called the mass shooting an “unprecedented tragedy.” Monday’s mass shooting is the deadliest in San Mateo County history, officials said.
David Oates, a representative for the farm where Zhao was employed, said officials at the farm, which had 34 other employees, were “shocked and grief-stricken over the senseless loss of four of our friends and long-time employees.”
“We pray for the team member that remains in critical condition,” Oates said, adding that the company is fully cooperating with law enforcement and providing grief counseling to its employees.
Oates said that as of March 2022, the Mountain Mushroom Farm had a new owner, and the farm was now called California Terra Garden.
Deputies responded to the incident at about 2:22 p.m. to the 12700 block of San Mateo Road, or Highway 92, in unincorporated San Mateo County, on reports of a shooting involving multiple victims, according to Corpus.
Upon arriving, deputies found four people dead with gunshot wounds, Corpus said. They also found a fifth person with gunshot wounds who was taken to Stanford Medical Center with life-threatening injuries. The suspect was not immediately located, according to the sheriff's office.
Shortly after, three additional victims were found dead with gunshot wounds at a separate location in the 2100 block of Cabrillo Highway South.
"All the evidence we have points to a case of workplace violence," said sheriff's spokesman Lt. Eamonn Allen, who declined to elaborate on a possible motive.
Assembly member Marc Berman said that while there are workplace disputes worldwide, “it’s only in the United States” that these workplace disputes turn into mass shootings.
Allen said there were children in the area of the shooting, but could not confirm that any were eyewitnesses of the shooting. All of the victims were adults.
Zhao was arrested Monday at 4:40 p.m. after parking his vehicle in the parking lot of a Half Moon Bay sheriff's substation, but he did not immediately surrender to authorities, according to Allen, who said a deputy noticed the suspect vehicle. Zhao was ordered out of the vehicle and was taken into custody without further incident.
Bay City News contributed to this story.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the age of the suspected shooter. Chunli Zhao is 66 years old. To request a correction, contact email@example.com.