Half Moon Bay: 7 killed in apparent ‘workplace violence’ case as 3 mass shootings in 44 hours stun California



CNN

The 66-year-old man suspected of killing four people at a mushroom farm in California and three others nearby on Monday was a farm worker, San Mateo County Sheriff Christina Corpus said Tuesday.

“All the evidence we have is that this is a case of workplace violence,” the sheriff said. “The only known connection between the victims and the suspect is that they may have been co-workers.”

The killings in California are the second in three days involving Asian American victims and suspects. The San Mateo County victims were either Asian or Hispanic, Corpus said.

Chunli Zhao, of Half Moon Bay, California, was arrested Monday at the sheriff's substation.

The U.S. has already suffered 39 mass shootings this month, more than any other beginning of the year.

In California, 19 people were killed in three mass shootings in just 44 hours:

• 11 people died after a gunman opened fire at a dance studio in Monterey Park, near Los Angeles;

• On Monday, seven people were killed in the Half Moon Bay area near San Francisco;

• One person died and seven others were injured in Auckland on Monday evening.

Although the motives remain a mystery, the Half Moon Bay murders share some similarities with the Monterey Park murders. Here, Huu Can Tran, 72, shot 20 people, killing 11, during Lunar New Year weekend celebrations, authorities said.

Both cases involve the Asian American community. According to the Rockefeller Institute of Government, in each the shooter or suspect is of Asian descent and much older than the average age of mass shooters, 33 years.

In San Mateo County, the suspect, Chunli Zhao, was taken into custody about two hours after the first call to police while standing outside a sheriff’s substation with a semiautomatic handgun in his vehicle, the sheriff said.

“We know that some of the victims were Chinese, that the perpetrator was Chinese and that this was an agricultural community — they were farm workers,” Half Moon Bay Mayor Deborah Penrose said Tuesday.

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San Mateo County officials found four dead and one injured at a mushroom farm. Moments later, three more people were found dead near a trucking company about two miles away in Half Moon Bay, county officials said.

That same evening, more bloodshed unfolded, this time in the Bay Area city of Oakland. One person died and seven others were injured in a stable condition, police said.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom was at a hospital meeting with injured victims of the Monterey Park shooting when he was “taken away to get information about another shooting — this time in Half Moon Bay,” he said.

“Tragedy after Tragedy,” Newsom tweeted.

President Joe Biden prayed for the victims in Half Moon Bay on Tuesday and reiterated his call for Congress to “act quickly” to ban assault weapons, he said in a statement, adding: “We know the scourge of gun violence across America calls for stronger action. ”

The mayor of Monterey Park, still stunned by the killings in his city, offered his condolences to those grieving in Half Moon Bay.

“I know what awaits them in the coming days,” Mayor Henry Lo said, offering support on their “long road to recovery.”

The owners of the San Mateo County mushroom farm had no knowledge of the gunman or his motive, they said.

“We are shocked and eager to get more information from the authorities and their investigation,” Concord Farms said in a statement to CNN. “Our hearts go out to the victims, their families and the Chinese American community from Half Moon Bay to Monterey Park.”

The Half Moon Bay community needs to come together in healing and support each other to address gun violence, San Mateo County Supervisor Ray Miller said.

“Tonight the farm workers suffered; there were children at the scene. This is a truly heartbreaking tragedy in our community,” Miller said.

Miller spoke to the mental health toll the violence has taken on the community and urged people to seek help, especially as the city tries to recover from the effects of recent deadly flooding that swept across large parts of the state.

“Please take advantage of the mental health crisis counseling that is available,” he said, adding that anyone can contact the county’s hotline. “You’re not alone.”

Half Moon Bay Vice Mayor Joaquin Jimenez also encouraged residents to seek mental health counseling.

“It’s something we can watch on the news. Never think it’s going to come and hit home,” Jimenez said. “We are the news today. Our community is affected.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story gave the wrong age for Chunli Zhao. He is 66.



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