Suspect in the Half Moon Bay mass shooting is to be charged Wednesday after he killed seven co-workers in a “job dispute” at a Northern California farm
- A Chinese farm worker is accused of killing seven people in California on Monday
- The suspect, Chunli Zhao, 66, is due to appear in court in Redwood City today
- Zhao had previously been accused of trying to split open his roommate’s head
The Chinese farm worker accused of shooting dead seven people and wounding another in the Half Moon Bay area of northern California faces charges in Redwood City on Wednesday.
Chunli Zhao, 66, is said to have acted alone in the shooting, which took place Monday at a nursery and mushroom farm in the area.
Zhao is scheduled to appear in court at 1:30 p.m. local time at Justice Hall in Redwood City, San Mateo District Attorney Stephen Wagstaffe said.
He was taken into custody hours after the attack as he parked his van at a Half Moon Bay police station. Zhao cooperates with the investigation.
Wagstaffe told KRON he expects the suspect to be charged with seven counts of murder, one count of attempted murder, weapons enhancement and a “multiple murder” charge. He is being held without bail.
The weapon used in the attack was a legally purchased semi-automatic handgun. Investigators have not said publicly what the motive for the shooting is, but San Mateo County Sheriff’s Spokesman Eamonn Allen said the evidence points to workplace violence.
The charges against Zhao have not been confirmed. His court appearance comes a day after California Gov. Gavin Newsom visited the area where the massacre occurred.
The governor used his appearance in the city to demand gun control.
Community members visit a memorial for shooting victims at Mac Dutra Park in Half Moon Bay
Half Moon Bay resident Elisabeth Olander, 68, is moved to tears at the memorial to the victims of the massacre
San Mateo County officials were still working at the scene of the shooting Wednesday
Chunli Zhao is expected to face seven counts of murder and one attempted murder
Officials have not yet released the names of the five men and two women who died, nor the one man who was injured. Some were Asian and at least three were Mexican nationals
Allen said that Zhao entered a mushroom farm in Half Moon Bay, California, and opened fire, killing four and leaving another seriously injured. He then drove to another nearby farm where he had previously worked and killed three other people.
Zhao’s criminal history has not been released by the authorities. In 2013, Zhao was accused of trying to suffocate his roommate and threatening to slash his head open with a knife, the New York Times reports.
The couple worked at the same restaurant where Zhao accused his friend Yingjiu Wang of stealing his paycheck. Wang was granted a restraining order against Zhao.
It is not known if the suspect was ever diagnosed with a mental illness.
Officials are keeping Chunli Zhao’s legal history secret from his indictment
Officials have not yet released the names of the five men and two women who died, nor the one man who was injured. Some were Asian and at least three were Mexican nationals.
Servando Martinez Jimenez said his brother Marciano Martinez Jimenez, who was a supplier and manager at one of the farms, was among those killed. Servando Martinez Jimenez said his brother never mentioned Zhao or said anything about problems with other workers.
“He was a good person. He was polite and friendly to everyone. He never had problems with anyone. I don’t understand why all this happened,” Martinez Jimenez said in Spanish outside his Half Moon Bay home.
Marciano Martinez Jimenez, 50, had lived in the United States for 28 years after arriving from the Mexican state of Oaxaca. Servando Martinez Jimenez said he was working with the Mexican consulate to bring his brother’s body home.
Half Moon Bay is a small, laid-back coastal and farming town about 30 miles south of San Francisco. Its sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean make it a popular spot for hikers and tourists who flock here for surfing and an annual giant pumpkin festival.
The shooting happened as California was still reeling from an attack in Monterrey Park, just outside Los Angeles, that killed 11 people and cast a shadow over Lunar New Year celebrations, a key holiday for many Asian-American communities. Authorities are still looking for a motive for Saturday’s shooting.