7 dead in Half Moon Bay shootings; suspect identified and arrested

Sheriff Christina Corpus speaks at a news conference in Half Moon Bay tonight about the shootings in that community. Inset is a photograph of the suspect, Chunli Zhao. News conference photo from the AP. Zhao mugshot from San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa.

Update, 8 p.m. — Seven people were killed in two related shootings today (Jan. 23) at farms in unincorporated Half Moon Bay, and a suspect was in custody, officials said.

Four people were found dead and a fifth injured from gunshot wounds at Mountain Mushroom Farm, and three others were found dead at Rice Trucking Soil Farm, the San Mateo County Sheriff’s office said.

A co-worker of the victims, Chunli Zhao, 67, of Half Moon Bay, surrendered at the town’s sheriff’s substation, the sheriff’s office said.

Some of the victims were workers at one facility who lived on the premises and children may have witnessed the shooting, Sheriff Christina Corpus said.

Corpus said officials hadn’t determined a motive for the shooting, though county Board of Supervisors President Dave Pine described Zhao as a “disgruntled worker.“

The shooting followed the killing of 11 people late Saturday at a ballroom dance hall in Monterey Park.

The sheriff’s Office first received reports of a shooting just before 2:30 p.m. and found four people dead from gunshot wounds and a fifth injured person at the Mountain Mushroom Farm, 12761 San Mateo Road. Shortly thereafter, officers discovered three more people dead from gunshot wounds at Rice Trucking Soil Farm, 2119 S. Cabrillo Highway.

About two hours after first responding, a sheriff’s deputy found the suspect, Zhao, in his car at a sheriff’s station in Half Moon Bay. He was taken into custody and a semi-automatic handgun was found in his vehicle. The sheriff’s department believes he acted alone, Allen said.

Aerial television images showed police officers collecting evidence from a farm with dozens of greenhouses.

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

The Sheriff’s Office is working with the District Attorney’s Office to interview the suspect and he is cooperating, Corpus said.

A family reunification center has been set up at the IDES Hall, 735 Main St., Half Moon Bay.

Anyone with information about the case is encouraged to contact Detective Deschler at (800) 547-2700.

Half Moon Bay Vice Mayor Joaquin Jimenez spoke out on behalf of the affected farmworkers, saying that this sort of thing is something you see on the news but never think is going to “hit home.”

“We’re still trying to understand exactly what happened and why, but it’s just incredibly, incredibly tragic,” said state Sen. Josh Becker, who represents the area and called it “a very close-knit” agricultural community.

“Today, we are the news. Our community has been affected,” Jimenez said.

“We are sickened by today’s tragedy in Half Moon Bay,“ Pine said. “We have not even had time to grieve for those lost in the terrible shooting in Monterey Park. Gun violence must stop.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom tweeted that he was “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. Tragedy upon tragedy.”

Update, 6:25 p.m. — The suspect in this afternoon’s fatal shootings in unincorporated Half Moon Bay has been identified as Zhao Chunli, 67, of Half Moon Bay.

He is an employee of one of the farms where the murders occurred today, according to Channel 7.

All of the victims were his coworkers.

Three bodies were found inside a home on the Mountain Mushroom Farm, and a fourth was discovered nearby, according to Sheriff Christine Corpus. A few hours later, three more bodies were discovered at Rice Trucking Soil Farm, which is about a mile away, she said.

A fifth victim was rushed to Stanford Hospital with what are described as “life-threatening injuries.”

Zhao was arrested at 4:40 p.m. in his vehicle in the parking lot of the Sheriff’s Office’s Half Moon Bay police substation, Channel 7 said. Deputies took him into custody without incident and found a gun in his vehicle, the sheriff said. Zhao is believed to have acted alone.

Corpus said they do not know Zhao’s motive in the shootings.

Update, 5:58 p.m. — Seven people were killed in two related shootings this afternoon at a mushroom farm and a trucking company in unincorporated Half Moon Bay, and a suspect was in custody, officials said.

San Mateo County Board of Supervisors President Dave Pine says four people were killed at the Mountain Mushroom Farm and three at the Rice Trucking Soil Farm.

It wasn’t immediately clear how the locations were connected.

State Sen. Josh Becker, who represents the area, said people were killed in separate shootings.

The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office tweeted just before 5 p.m. that a suspect was in custody.

“There is no ongoing threat to the community at this time,” the sheriff’s office said.

5:15 p.m. — A person suspected in the fatal shootings of four people in unincorporated Half Moon Bay this afternoon is custody, the San Mateo Sheriff’s Office announced on Twitter at 4:54 p.m.

One person was shot dead at the Mountain Mushroom Farm and three people were killed at the Rice Trucking-Soil Farm, Channel 7 reported.

San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa confirmed that four people died in separate shootings in an unincorporated area of Half Moon Bay.

The San Mateo Sheriff’s Department responded to the shooting in the area of Highway 92 and the Half Moon Bay City limits, the Sheriff’s Office said on Twitter at 3:50 p.m.

“First Monterey Park and now Half Moon Bay,” said Canepa, referring to an earlier mass shooting that happened on Saturday in the San Gabriel Valley area. “Enough is enough. How many more must die?”

“My heart breaks for the families,” he said. — From staff and wire reports


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