[Breaking news update, published at 12:45 p.m. ET]
The 66-year-old man suspected of killing four people at a San Mateo County mushroom farm and three others at a neighboring property on Monday was a farm worker, Sheriff Christina Corpus said Tuesday.
“All the evidence we have shows that this is a case of workplace violence,” he said at a press conference. “The only known connection between the victims and the suspects is that they may have been co-workers.”
Further, “the automatic firearm was legally purchased and belonged to him,” Corpus said.
Seven men and a woman were shot, and the rest “has been removed from surgery and is in stable condition,” the sheriff said, adding that all are Hispanic or Asian.
Suspect Chunli Zhao is expected to be arraigned Wednesday, and charges have not been determined, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.
[Original story, published at 11:16 a.m. ET]
As Californians grapple with triple homicide threats in three days, investigators near San Francisco are trying to figure out why a 66-year-old man may have killed seven people in a killing spree that has also devastated Asian Americans.
FOLLOW LIFE EVENTS
The US has already had 39 attacks this month – more than any beginning of the year on record. In California, at least 19 people were killed in mass shootings in the 44 hours since Saturday night, and:
• 11 people were killed when a gunman opened fire at a dance floor in Monterey Park, near Los Angeles;
• Seven people were killed Monday in the Half Moon Bay area near San Francisco;
• One person was killed and seven others were injured Monday evening in Oakland.
Although his motives are still unknown, the Half Moon Bay massacre has similarities to the Monterey Park massacre. That’s when Huu Can Tran, 72, killed 20 people – 11 of them murdered – during New Year’s celebrations over the weekend, authorities said.
All of these cases share ties to Asian Americans – who have been a target since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. And every shooter or suspect is of Asian descent and is much older than the 33-year-old median age for mass murder, according to the Rockefeller Institute of Government.
At least several people killed in the two groups were of Asian origin.
“We know that some of the victims were Chinese, that the perpetrator was Chinese and that they were farmers — they were farmers,” Half Moon Bay Mayor Deborah Penrose told “CNN This Morning” on Tuesday.
In the Half Moon Bay incident, suspect Chunli Zhao was arrested about two hours after the first call to police when he was stopped at a sheriff’s station with an automatic rifle in his car, the sheriff said.
Police in San Mateo County have found four people dead and one person injured at a mushroom farm. A short time later, three more people were found dead near a truck stop about two miles away in Half Moon Bay, authorities said.
That same evening, another bloodbath occurred – this time in the Bay Area city of Oakland. One person was killed and seven others were injured, police said.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom was at a hospital meeting for the wounded in Monterey Park when he was “pulled up to be told about another shooting – this time in Half Moon Bay,” he said.
“Tragedy upon tragedy,” Newsom tweeted.
President Joe Biden is praying Tuesday for the victims of Half Moon Bay and also called on Congress to “take immediate action” to ban assault weapons, he said in a statement, adding: “We know the epidemic of gun violence in America requires strong action.”
The mayor of Monterey Park, still reeling from the massacre in his city, offered his condolences to those grieving in Half Moon Bay.
“I know what will be in store for them in the next few days,” said Mayor Henry Lo, offering his support for the “long road to recovery.”
The owners of the mushroom farm in San Mateo County did not know about the gun or its purpose, he said.
“We are shocked and eager to hear more from the authorities and their investigation,” Concord Farms said in a statement to CNN. “Our hearts go out to the victims, their families and the Chinese American community – from Half Moon Bay to Monterey Park.”
The Half Moon Bay community needs to come together to heal — and help each other fight gun violence — San Mateo County Supervisor Ray Mueller said.
“There were farm workers who were affected tonight; there were children at the scene during the incident. This is a very sad tragedy for our community,” Mueller said.
Mueller spoke to mentally ill victims of violence in the area and urged people to reach out for help, especially as the city tries to recover from the recent flooding that swept the state.
“Please use the mental health services that are available,” he said, adding that anyone can call the county’s hotline. “You are not alone.”
Half Moon Bay Vice Mayor Joaquin Jimenez also urged people to seek mental health counseling.
“This is something we see on the news. Don’t think it’s going to hit home,” Jimenez said. “Today we are news. Our community is affected. ”
Control: The original version of the story gave the wrong age of Chunli Zhao. He is 66.