In a news conference on the evening of January 23, 2023, Sheriff Christina Corpus confirmed that Zhao is in custody. His name was previously given by NBC Bay Area as Zhao Chunli. The sheriff confirmed that seven people were found deceased of gunshot wounds, and an eighth person was wounded by gunfire and taken to the hospital with life-threatening wounds.
Corpus, speaking in a Tuesday news conference, revealed that the victims were adults and a mixture of Hispanic and Asian descent. Seven were males, and one was female, she said, adding that they may have been co-workers with the suspect. She said that some of the victims were members of the migrant community, making notification of next of kin more difficult. She said the shootings appear to be a case of workplace violence. The surviving victim is now in stable condition, she said.
In the first news conference, the sheriff called the mass shooting a “devastating tragedy for the community and the families touched by this unspeakable act of violence.”
Video showed Chunli Zhao being taken into custody. According to NBC Bay Area, he was “found in his vehicle in the parking lot of the Half Moon Bay substation.”
Half Moon Bay is a California community near San Francisco.
Here’s what you need to know:
The Sheriff Says the Shooting Spree Spanned Two Different Locations
The sheriff said in the news conference that deputies initially found four victims deceased with gunshot wounds, and the fifth victim with a gunshot wound but who was still alive.
The suspect was not immediately located, she said.
Shortly thereafter, three additional victims were found deceased at a separate shooting scene, she said. Corpus later said that the first victims were found at a mushroom farm and the others near a trucking facility.
The motive is currently unknown, according to the sheriff, who said Zhao is a 67-year-old resident of Half Moon Bay, California.
At 4:40 p.m., she said Zhao was located in his vehicle in the parking lot of the sheriff’s substation by a sheriff’s deputy and was taken into custody without incident. The sheriff said a semi-automatic handgun was found in his vehicle. She said that authorities believe Zhao acted alone and that there is no further threat to the community.
Earlier, the Sheriff’s Department tweeted, “*Update* Suspect is in custody. There is no ongoing threat to the community at this time.”
According to NBC Bay Area, three people were found “at a location off San Mateo Road (Highway 92).” The fourth victim was found, NBC Bay Area reported, citing a source. The site later reported that an additional three victims were found at another location.
Chunli Zhao Worked for a Mushroom Farm, the Sheriff Says
Half Moon Bay Councilmember Debbie Ruddock told NBC Bay Area that the victims “are Chinese farmworkers.” According to ABC7, the shootings occurred at Mountain Mushroom Farm and Concord Farms. The television station reported that Mountain Mushroom Farm grows marijuana.
“We do know is that some of the victims were Chinese, that the perpetrator was Chinese and that this was an agricultural community – they were agricultural workers,” Half Moon Bay Mayor Deborah Penrose told CNN on Tuesday.
Corpus said in the news conference that the suspect worked at Mountain Mushroom Farm.
The California Terra Garden, which operates the Mountain Mushroom Farm, issued a statement to CBS News, saying, “We remain shocked and grief-stricken over the senseless loss of four of our friends and long-time employees, and we pray for the team member that remains in critical condition.”
Video showed the Half Moon Bay suspect, “wearing a hat, red T-shirt and vest, being taken into custody on Kelly Avenue,” according to KTVU-TV.
The Chinese community in California is already grieving after a mass shooting at a dance hall in Monterey Park California, which occurred on Saturday, January 21, 2023.
Chunli Zhao Was Previously Accused of Workplace Violence Threats
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Zhao is a “mushroom farm worker” who was once “accused of threatening to split another coworker’s head open with a knife and trying to suffocate the man a decade ago at another Bay Area job.”
In 2013, Jingjiu Wang “filed for a temporary restraining order” against Zhao, accusing him of physically assaulting and making death threats toward him at a San Jose restaurant, the Chronicle reported.
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