Half Moon Bay, CA mass shooting: Chunlei Chow, the suspect in the Northern California shooting was a farm worker

Half Moon Bay, California – An agricultural worker killed seven people at the farm he worked at and at another business in Northern California, prompting the state to mourn again in the wake of its third mass killing in eight days.

San Mateo County Sheriff Christina Corpus said officers arrested the suspect in Monday’s shooting, 67-year-old Chunli Chao, after they found him in his car in the parking lot of a sheriff’s sub station.

The sheriff’s office said it found seven dead and an eighth wounded at a farm and another location several miles away. Corpus said officials suspect Chow worked at a facility and that the victims were workers as well. Officials did not specify a motive for the shooting.

Related: Monterey Park mass shooting: Here’s what we know about the victims so far

San Mateo County Sheriff Christina Corpus confirmed Tuesday that Chow was an employee of Mountain Mushroom Farm. She says the only known connection between the shooter and his victims is that they “may have been co-workers”.

The sheriff’s office said seven of the victims were men and one woman. Some were Asian, some were Hispanic, and some were migrant workers.

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Watch the moment police arrest the suspect in the Half Moon Bay shooting

Aerial television footage Monday showed police officers collecting evidence from a farm with dozens of greenhouses, which appears to be where police found the four dead. And on Tuesday morning, the police continued to close the site.

On January 16, a teenage mother and her child were among six people killed in a Central Valley, California home shooting. Officials who discussed the investigation mentioned a possible gang link to the killings.

California was still reeling from an attack on a Lunar New Year celebration in Monterey Park that killed 11 and overshadowed an important holiday for many Asian American communities. Authorities are still searching for a motive for Saturday’s shooting.

“For the second time in recent days, California communities are grieving the loss of their loved ones in a senseless act of gun violence,” President Joe Biden said Tuesday morning. “Even as we await more details on these shootings, we know that the scourge of gun violence across America requires stronger action.”

The new year saw six mass killings in the United States in less than three weeks, accounting for 39 deaths. Three of them have occurred 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 not including the perpetrator – committed in the United States since 2006.

A woman who witnessed the arrest of the HMB shooting suspect shares details

The killings took place in the suburbs of Half Moon Bay, a city about 30 miles (48 kilometers) south of San Francisco.

Half Moon Bay deputy mayor Joaquin Jimenez said the victims included Chinese and Latino farm workers. She said that some workers lived in one of the facilities and children may have witnessed the shooting. Corpus said it was not immediately clear how the two sites were connected.

The sheriff’s office initially received reports of gunfire in the afternoon and found four dead and a fifth wounded at the first scene. Officers then found three more people who had been shot dead nearby, Capt. Eamonn Allen said in a news release.

About two hours later, a deputy sheriff discovered Zhao’s car parked outside a sheriff’s substation in a strip mall and arrested him.

Video of the arrest showed three officers approaching a parked car with weapons drawn. Chow got out of the car, officers pulled him to the ground, put him in handcuffs, and drove away. Officials said a weapon was found in his car. The video was taken by Katie McHugh, a resident of Half Moon Bay who witnessed the arrest.

The Sheriff’s Department believes that Zhao acted alone.

ABC7’s Dustin Dorsey at Stanford Hospital where 3 were wounded in the Half Moon Bay shooting

“We’re still trying to understand exactly what happened and why, but it’s incredibly tragic,” said Senator Josh Baker, who represents the district and described it as a “very close-knit farming community.”

Half Moon Bay is a small coastal town with agricultural roots, home to about 12,000 people. Surrounding San Mateo County is a mix of coastal towns and hills dotted with farms, including flower and tree nurseries as well as farms. The province also allows the cultivation of cannabis in greenhouses and in nurseries in some areas.

It is a majority white community. About a third of the population is Hispanic and about 5% is Asian, according to census data.

“We are sick and tired of today’s tragedy in Half Moon Bay,” said Dave Payne, San Mateo County Supervisor. “We didn’t even have time to grieve those lost in the horrific shooting in Monterey Park. Gun violence must stop.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom tweeted that he was “at a hospital meeting with mass shooting victims when I was pulled over to be briefed on another shooting. This time in Half Moon Bay. Tragedy upon tragedy.”

Aaron Tong, director of Concord Farms, one of the sites involved in the shooting, said in a statement: “With what little information is available to us at this time, our comments are limited. Certainly, we thank the outpouring of ideas and support from the community. We thank law enforcement for their prompt response and action.” Concord Farms has been a family owned and operated mushroom farm at this location for 37 years.With no prior knowledge of this gunman or his motives, we are deeply anxious to get more information from the authorities and from their investigation.Our hearts go out to the victims, their families, and the Chinese American community – from Half Moon Bay to Monterey Park”.

ABC News contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2023 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


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