Zhao Chunli, 67, was taken into custody on Monday accused of murdering seven farm workers in the Half Moon Bay area
A 67-year-old veteran farm worker has killed seven fellow Chinese agricultural laborers in what local news described as a workplace dispute.
Zhao Chunli, who lived in Half Moon Bay, was arrested and is ‘fully cooperating’ with law enforcement, officials said.
The shootings took place at two separate locations in Half Moon Bay, with four shot at a farm ran by Concord Farms, and three at Mountain Mushroom Farms two miles away. Officials are unsure which was attacked first.
Children were present on the scene at the time, because some of the workers lived on-site with their families.
An eighth person was shot and injured, and airlifted to Stanford Medical Center.
ABC7 News confirmed that the suspect, who lived in Pescadero, had worked for decades at one of the mushroom farms where the shooting took place, and all victims were co-workers.
Dramatic footage from ABC News shows the moment Zhao was taken into custody, in the parking lot of the Half Moon sheriff’s office, at 4:40pm.
His maroon Lexus SUV had been spotted leaving the scene, and was then seen at the sheriff’s office. A weapon was found in his vehicle: Zhao is believed to have acted alone, and is cooperating with law enforcement.
The killings come less than 48 hours after 72-year-old Huu Can Tran shot and killed 11 people celebrating Lunar New Year in Monterey Park, near Los Angeles.
Sheriff Christina Corpus of San Mateo County said: ‘This kind of shooting is horrific.
‘It’s a tragedy we hear about too often, but today it has hit home to Half Moon Bay.’
Zhao Chunli, 67, is pictured on Monday afternoon as he is arrested by San Mateo County officials
Corpus added: ‘We’re working with our district attorney’s office to interview the suspect.
‘He’s believed to be a worker. We don’t have the exact connection at the time – we are working to try and gather more information.’
Corpus said they think the weapon found in his SUV was the one used in the shooting, but they are yet to confirm whether he held the weapon legally. She could not confirm whether he had a criminal history.
Corpus said that the children were on the scene because school had finished.
‘For them to witness this is unthinkable,’ she said.
Police in the Half Moon Bay area are seen approaching the suspected killer on Monday afternoon
They grab Zhao by the hand, and wrestle him to the ground
Zhao is seen being restrained and searched, before he is handcuffed and put in the police car
Sheriff Christina Corpus is seen on Monday evening addressing a press conference
Supervisor Dave Pine said that the gun violence plaguing the United States ‘has to change’
Police are seen at the site of one of the two shootings in Half Moon Bay
The first call was made to police at 2:22pm on Monday afternoon
Police are pictured at the scene of one of the Half Moon Bay shootings
Zhao is believed to have worked at one of the sites for many years: police are confirming the details of his employment
The sheriff’s office confirmed at 5pm that they had the suspect in custody.
‘There is no ongoing threat to the community at this time,’ they said in a tweet.
Half Moon Bay is a small community of 12,000 people in the Bay Area’s Peninsula. The city sits less than 30 miles outside of San Francisco.
Dave Pine, president of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, told a press conference: ‘There are simply too many guns in our country.
‘This has to change.
‘This is not an acceptable way for a modern society to operate.’
Pine and his colleagues urged local residents to take advantage of mental health support being offered by the community.
Gavin Newsom, the governor of California, tweeted: ‘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.’
Marc Berman, a congressman whose district includes Half Moon Bay, tweeted: ‘Two hours ago I joined my colleagues on the Capitol steps for a vigil for the victims of the shooting in Monterey Park.
‘Before we’ve even had a chance to mourn them, there is yet another mass shooting – this time in Half Moon Bay. In my district.’
He added: ‘We MUST do more to address the epidemic of gun violence in our communities and across America.
‘How many more lives will be senselessly cut short today? Tomorrow? This year?’
Jackie Spier, a congresswoman who represented Half Moon Bay until the beginning of this year, demanded more be done to address gun violence.
‘A mass shooting has now hit my beloved community of Half Moon Bay, one of the last places one would expect such a abominable act. We celebrate pumpkin festivals and holiday parades there.
‘When will Congress have the guts to really DO something about gun violence?’