A gunman killed seven people at two agricultural businesses in Northern California, plunging the state into mourning again in the wake of its second mass killing in three days.
The Sheriff’s Office first received reports of a shooting Monday afternoon and found four people dead and a fifth wounded at a mushroom farm. Officers then found three more people fatally shot nearby at a second scene, Capt. Eamonn Allen said in a news release. The wounded victim was taken to a local hospital in critical condition.
About two hours later, a sheriff’s deputy spotted the gunman’s car parked outside a sheriff’s substation in a strip mall and arrested him. He was identified as 67-year-old Chunli Zhao.
A video of the arrest showed three officers approaching a parked car with drawn weapons. The shooter got out of the car, and the officers pulled him to the ground, put him in handcuffs, and led him away. A weapon was found in his vehicle, officials said. The video was captured by Kati McHugh, a Half Moon Bay resident who witnessed the arrest.
Officials believe the shooter worked at one of the facilities and that the victims were workers as well, San Mateo County Sheriff Christina Corpus said. Officials haven’t determined a motive for the shooting. Corpus said it wasn’t immediately clear how the two locations were connected.
Half Moon Bay Vice Mayor Joaquin Jimenez said the victims included Chinese and Latino farmworkers. Some workers lived at one of the facilities and children may have witnessed the shooting, she said.
“It was in the afternoon when kids were out of school,” Corpus said. “For kids to witness this — it’s unspeakable.”
The sheriff’s department believes Zhao acted alone.
“We’re still trying to understand exactly what happened and why, but it’s just incredibly, incredibly tragic,” said state Sen. Josh Becker, who represents the area and called it “a very close-knit” agricultural community.
Aerial television images showed police officers collecting evidence from a farm with dozens of greenhouses.
NBC Bay Area’s Investigative Unit has been looking into the mass shooting in Half Moon Bay and has new information about one of the shooting locations. Candice Nguyen reports.
Half Moon Bay is a small coastal city with agricultural roots, home to about 12,000 people. The city and surrounding San Mateo County area is known for producing flowers as well as vegetables like brussels sprouts. The county allows cannabis farming in some areas.
It’s a majority white community and about 5% of the population is Asian, according to Census data.
“We are sickened by today’s tragedy in Half Moon Bay,” Pine said. “We have not even had time to grieve for those lost in the terrible shooting in Monterey Park. Gun violence must stop.”
California is still reeling from an attack on a Lunar New Year celebration in Monterey Park that killed 11 and cast a shadow over an important holiday for many Asian-American communities.
Los Angeles Sheriff Robert Luna said investigators had not yet established why 72-year-old Huu Can Tran gunned down patrons Saturday night at a ballroom dance hall in Monterey Park, where tens of thousands attended Lunar New Year festivities earlier that evening. Tran later killed himself as police closed in on him.
“What drove a mad man to do this? We don’t know, but we intend to find out,” Luna said.
A security camera at an Alhambra, California, dance hall recorded the moment a man wrestled the Monterey Park shooter, minutes after the gunman killed 11 people on Saturday.
Brandon Tsay, who works part-time at another dance club founded by his grandparents, was able to disarm the gunman and prevent another tragedy at a second location.
“He was looking at me and looking around, not hiding that he was trying to do harm,” Tsay told the New York Times. “His eyes were menacing.”
Tsay told the Times he did not recognize the man. He also did not realize the tragedy that had just unfolded a few minutes earlier at Star Ballroom Dance Studio about 2 miles to the south.
A man who said he had been a longtime friend of Tran told The Associated Press that the gunman once frequented the dance hall and another that he also targeted and griped about the way he thought people treated him there.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom tweeted that he was “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.”
Mass shootings are defined as events where at least four people are shot, either injured or killed, not including the shooter, according to the Gun Violence Archive.