California Gov. Gavin Newsom described mass shootings as a phenomenon that is so inherently American that some of the Chinese immigrants he met with in the wake of the massacre in Half Moon Bay didn't know how to comprehend what happened.
The governor said their translator didn’t know how to accurately convey what many of the people who were caught in the shooting were witnessing and thinking.
"Their friends got shot, killed," he said at a news conference Tuesday. "They went over, people had been shot, and they thought they were acting. They'd never heard a sound like that, they'd never seen a scene like that, they didn't even know how to comprehend a gunshot wound. That's not something they ever experienced, let alone comprehend that.
"Only in America do we see this kind of carnage, this kind of chaos, this kind of destruction of communities and lives and confidence and sense of safety and belonging," Newsom said.
The governor thanked first responders and local officials for their swift actions during and in the shooting's aftermath.
He also touted the state's strict gun laws, saying, "gun safety works. We will not back away from that resolve."
Three of California’s State Assembly members who represent San Mateo County said they would keep pushing for laws that will reduce gun violence incidents like those that happened in Half Moon Bay and Monterey Park over the past few days.
“Unfortunately, it is still way to easy for any individual to obtain a legal or an illegal firearm in this state. That’s just a fact,” said California State Assembly member Phil Ting.
The Half Moon Bay community’s sense of peace “was destroyed by senseless death,” Assemblymember Marc Berman said, noting that there are workplace disagreements and relationship disagreements happen all over the world.
“But it’s only in the United States where far too often those disagreements end in mass shootings,” he said, promising that the state will do everything possible to further reduce such incidents.
The semi-automatic handgun believed to have been used by the Half Moon Bay suspect was legally purchased and owned, authorities said. The origin of the weapons used by the suspect in Monterey Park is being investigated by authorities.
Nearly adecade before he allegedly went on a killing spree at two Northern California mushroom farms, the suspected gunman was accused oftrying to suffocateand threatening to murder a former coworker at another job.
Police say Chunli Zhao fatally shot seven people, including some of his fellow employees, at two mushroom farms on Monday. But it wasn’t the first time he was accused ofviolenceagainst someone he worked with, court records obtained by CNN show.
Zhao was subject to a temporary restraining order after a former coworker and roommate accused him of attacking and threatening him in 2013.
Yingjiu Wang, who worked with Zhao at a restaurant and lived with him in a San Jose apartment, wrote in a court declaration that Zhao’s violent behavior started after Zhao quit his job at their shared workplace in March 2013.
Early in the morning two days later, Zhao came into Wang’s room and asked for his salary. When Wang told him to pick it up at the restaurant, Zhao said he would kill Wang, and then “took a pillow and started to cover my face and suffocate me,” Wang wrote.
While he couldn't breathe, Wang wrote, “I used all my might within the few seconds to push him away with my blanket."
He said that he called for help and another roommate cameto the door, but that Zhao had lockedit. The two men ended up wrestling on Wang’s bed before Zhao calmed down, according to Wang.
Two days later, he wrote, Zhao threatened him again, saying that “he can use a knife to cut my head if he can’t come back to work.” Wang wrote that he had no control over Zhao’s work status at the restaurant.
A judge issued a temporary restraining order against Zhao, which prevented him from getting too close to Wang and also banned him from owningor buyinga gun, according to the court paperwork.The restraining order expired in July 2013.
The incident wasfirst reportedbythe San Francisco Chronicle.
Anattorneyfor Zhaoin the 2013 complaint did not respond to requests for comment.Wang could not be reached for comment.
The FBI sent in technical and forensic support to assist the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office to assist in their investigation of the mass shooting.
“We are now transitioning to providing victim services, and are in the process of identifying resources to help victims of this mass casualty event,” said Robert Tripp, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s San Francisco field office.
Tripp was speaking at a news conference Tuesday in Half Moon Bay.
San Mateo County Sheriff Christina Corpus clarified that five men and two women were killed by the gunman in Half Moon Bay shootings.
One man who was also shot is in stable condition in hospital, she said during a news conference Tuesday.
Earlier, officials had reported the victims comprised seven men and a woman, one of whom was hospitalized.
"What happened yesterday in this community is devastating," Corpus said, adding that the epidemic of gun violence needs to end.
Earlier, the sheriff's office noted that the 66-year-old suspect was an employee at the mushroom farm where one of the incidents occurred, and evidence points to it being an instance of workplace violence. The victims were of Asian and Hispanic descent and possible coworkers, officials said.
The San Mateo County sheriff's department and California Gov. Gavin Newsom are holding a news conference on the Half Moon Bay mass shooting.
The gunman in a shooting that left a total of seven people dead over two locations in Half Moon Bay, California, lived at the property where four of the victims were killed, according to a company spokesperson.
The site, formerly knownas Mountain Mushroom Farm,was acquired by a company called California Terra Garden in March 2022, spokesperson David Oates, told CNN.
There are three mobile homes and six trailersfor employeeson the property, and the suspected gunman, Chunli Zhao,lived theresince at least then,the spokesperson said.
Zhaostarted workingat the farm prior to Terra Garden acquiring it, and was one of about 35 employees,according to Oates.
“Everyone had background checks, and there was nothing to indicate anything like this was even a possibility,” he said.
The farm grows mushrooms and “other food-grade herbs like basil, oregano, those kind of things… predominantly mushrooms sold on the retail and wholesale side,” Oates said.
The owners of the farm arebringing in grief counselors for all the employees, Oates said. “Their goal right now is to try to bring everybody together to start a long healing process. They look at team members more like family,” he said.
Seven people were killed and one person critically injured Monday in shootings attwo separate locationsin a small coastal community in the San Francisco Bay area, becoming the state’s second mass shooting in three days, officials said.
Chunli Zhao, the 66-year-old suspect, was taken into custody more than two hours after the shootings in Half Moon Bay, according to San Mateo County Sheriff Christina Corpus.
The San Mateo County victims were either Asian or Hispanic, Corpus said.
The killings mark California’s second massacre in three days involving Asian American victims and suspects.
Here's what we know about the deadly shooting:
- The victims: Seven people were killed and one was injured in the shootings in Half Moon Bay. The only known connection between the victims and the suspect is that some may have beencoworkers, Corpus said at a news conference Tuesday. Officers found four people dead and one person wounded at a mushroom farm. Moments later, three more people were found dead near a trucking facility about two miles away, officials said. Five men and two women were killed while a surviving male was taken to the hospital and is out of surgery and stable. The victims were either Asian or Hispanic, they said.
- The suspect: Zhao was an employee of the mushroom farm, where four people were killed Monday, Corpus said. “All of the evidence we have points to this being the instance of workplace violence,” the sheriff said.
- The investigation: The suspect will be arraigned Wednesday, according to San Mateo CountyDistrict Attorney Steve Wagstaffe. The charges have not yet been determined and that decision will be made later Tuesday or Wednesday morning. Wagstaffe noted that "obviously" the charges will involve the homicides that took place. The semi-automatic handgun was legally purchased and owned, authorities said. A motive is still being investigated.
- Community response: The Half Moon Bay killings mark California’s second massacre in three days involving Asian American victims and suspects. And state-wide, 19 people were slaughtered in three mass shootings in just 44 hours: 11people were killedafter a gunman opened fireat a dance studioin Monterey Park, near Los Angeles; seven people were killedin the Half Moon Bay area and one person was killed and seven others woundedMonday evening in Oakland. Stop AAPI Hate released the following statement in response to the mass shootings in Half Moon Bay and Monterey Park: “There is no way to describe the overwhelming loss of life that has taken place over the past few days, and its impact on the Asian American community, the Latino community, the farmworker community and the communities of Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay. We are in mourning. Our immediate priorities involve supporting victims and communities through our local coalition members."
Read more about the investigation here.
The post was updated with new details on the gender breakdown of the victims.
An employee of a California mushroom farm where agunman shot and killed four people Monday described how he ran for cover with other workers as theassailantopened fire and then fled the scene on a forklift.
“I'm still scared and trying to figure out what happened,"said the witness, who asked not to be named because of the ongoing police investigation. “I don't understand.”
The witness told CNN he had known the suspect, identified by law enforcement as 66-year-old Chunli Zhao for about six years, as they were coworkers. He had considered him “very friendly” and “a nice guy,” and added that he had no idea of what might have prompted the fatal assault or“what was his problem with these guys,” referring to the victims.
The employee said Tuesday that whenhe heard gunshotsring out hetried to hide with several of his co-workers, worrying that the gunman might start coming for them.
He said he ran to one victim outside of a greenhouse but noticed how much he was bleeding and realized "it was too late.”
Investigators later found another victim inside the greenhouse, he added, saying both victims were Chinese men.
After the gunfire ended, the witness said he saw the suspect drive off on a forklift.
Roughly two dozen people work at the farm, according to the witness. About a half dozen are Chinese and the rest are Latino immigrants. He said the two groups did not speak one another’s language and communicated through hand gestures or a translator.