A farm worker killed seven people on the farm where he worked and another business in Northern California, the state was again in mourning after the third massacre in eight days.
San Mateo County Sheriff Christina Corpus said police arrested Chunli Chao, 67, a suspect in Monday’s shooting when they found him in his car in the sheriff’s precinct parking lot.
Seven people were found dead and eight injured at a farm several kilometers away and at another location, the sheriff’s office said. Corpus said officials suspected the shooter worked at one of the facilities and that the victims were also workers. They have not yet determined a motive for the shooting.
San Mateo County Sheriff Christina Corpus confirmed Tuesday that Zhao was an employee at Mountain Mushroom Farm. The only known connection between the gunman and his victim was that “they were probably colleagues,” she said.
Some of the victims were migrant workers
Seven of the victims were men and one was a woman, the sheriff’s office said. Some are Asian, some are Hispanic, and some are immigrant workers.
Aerial television images on Monday showed police taking evidence on a farm with dozens of greenhouses, which appears to be where police found the four dead. Police continued to cordon off the location on Tuesday morning.
California was still reeling Tuesday from an attack on a Lunar New Year celebration in California’s Monterey Park that killed 11 people and cast a shadow over a key holiday in many Asian-American communities. Authorities are still searching for a motive for Saturday’s shooting.
“For the second time in recent days, the California community mourns the loss of a loved one in senseless acts of gun violence,” President Joe Biden said Tuesday morning. “Even as we wait for further details on these shootings, we know that the scourge of gun violence across America demands stronger action.”
Six people were killed, including a teenage mother and her child, in a shooting at a home in California’s Central Valley on January 16. Officials discussing the investigation mentioned that the killings may be gang-related.
The United States has started the new year with six mass killings in less than three weeks, killing a total of 39 people. There have been three in California since Jan. 16, according to a database compiled by The Associated Press, USA TODAY and Northeastern University. The database tracks every mass killing — defined as four deaths and excluding criminals — committed in the United States since 2006.
The children may have witnessed the shooting
The latest shooting occurred in the suburb of Half Moon Bay, about 48 kilometers south of San Francisco.
Half Moon Bay Deputy Mayor Joaquin Jimenez said the victims included Chinese and Latino farm workers. Some workers lived in one of the facilities and children may have witnessed the shooting, she said.
Corpus said it was unclear how the two sites were connected.
The sheriff’s office was first reported of the shooting in the afternoon and found four dead and five wounded at the first scene. Officers then found three other people shot nearby, Capt. Eamonn Allen said at a news conference.
About two hours later, a sheriff’s deputy spotted Zhao’s car parked outside a sheriff’s precinct in a strip mall and arrested him.
A video of the arrest shows three officers approaching a parked car with weapons. When Zhao got out of the car, the police pushed him to the ground, handcuffed him, and took him away. A weapon was found in his vehicle, officials said. The video was taken by Half Moon Bay resident Kati McHugh, who witnessed the arrest.
The public security department believes that Zhao acted alone.
“We’re still trying to figure out exactly what happened and why, but it’s unbelievable, unbelievable Unbelievably tragic.”
Half Moon Bay is a small coastal city of approximately 12,000 people with agricultural roots. Surrounding San Mateo County is a mix of coastal cities and hills, dotted with farms including flower and tree nurseries and ranches. The county also allows the cultivation of marijuana in greenhouses and nurseries in certain areas.
This is a majority white neighborhood. About one-third of the population is Latino, and about five percent are Asian, according to census data.
“We are disgusted by the tragedy that unfolded in Half Moon Bay today,” said San Mateo County Supervisor Dave Pyne. “We don’t even have time to mourn those who lost their lives in the horrific shooting in Monterey Park. Gun violence must stop.”
California Gov. Gavin Newsom tweeted that he was “meeting with victims of a mass shooting at the hospital when I was pulled away for a briefing on another shooting. This time in Half Moon Bay. Tragedy after tragedy .”