HALF MOON BAY, Calif. (AP) — A gunman killed seven people at two farms in Northern California, plunging the state into renewed mourning after its third mass killing in eight days.
Officials arrested a suspect in Monday’s shooting, 67-year-old Chunli Zhao, after finding him in his car in a sheriff’s substation parking lot, San Mateo County Sheriff Christina Corpus said.
CONTINUE READING: 7 killed in two shootings in California community, officials say
Seven people were found dead and an eighth injured at a farm and another location several miles away, the sheriff’s office said. Officials believe Zhao worked at one of the facilities and the victims were also workers, Corpus said. Officials have not determined a motive for the shooting.
California is still reeling from an attack on a New Year’s celebration in Monterey Park that killed 11 and eclipsed an important holiday for many Asian American communities. Authorities are still looking for a motive for Saturday’s shooting.
“For the second time in recent days, California communities are mourning the loss of loved ones to a senseless act of gun violence,” President Joe Biden said Tuesday morning. “While we await more details about these shootings, we know the scourge of gun violence across America requires stronger action.”
The New Year has brought six mass murders with 39 deaths in less than three weeks in the US. Three have performed in California since January 16, according to a database compiled by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University. The database tracks every mass murder – defined as four dead without the perpetrator – committed in the United States since 2006.
The murders occurred on the outskirts of Half Moon Bay, a city about 30 miles (48 kilometers) south of San Francisco.
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Half Moon Bay vice mayor Joaquin Jimenez said the victims included Chinese and Latino farm workers. Some workers lived at one of the facilities, and children may have witnessed the shooting, she said. Corpus said it’s not immediately clear how the two sites are linked.
The sheriff’s office first received reports of a shooting that afternoon and found four dead and a fifth wounded at the first scene. Officials then found three other people fatally shot nearby, Captain Eamonn Allen said in a news release.
About two hours later, a sheriff’s deputy spotted Zhao’s car parked in front of a sheriff’s substation at a mall and arrested him.
Video of the arrest showed three officers approaching a parked car, guns drawn. Zhao got out of the car and the officers dragged him to the ground, handcuffed him, and led him away. A gun was found in his vehicle, officials said. The video was captured by Kati McHugh, a Half Moon Bay resident who witnessed the arrest.
The sheriff’s department believes Zhao acted alone.
“We’re still trying to understand exactly what happened and why, but it’s just unbelievably, unbelievably tragic,” said State Senator Josh Becker, who represents the area and called it “a very tight-knit” farming community.
Aerial television footage showed police officers gathering evidence from a farm with dozens of greenhouses.
Half Moon Bay is a small coastal town with farming roots that is home to approximately 12,000 people. The city and surrounding area of San Mateo County are known for growing flowers and vegetables such as Brussels sprouts.
It is a majority white community and about 5% of the population is Asian according to census data.
“We are disgusted by today’s tragedy in Half Moon Bay,” Pine said. “We didn’t even have time to mourn those lost in the horrific Monterey Park shooting. Gun violence must stop.”
California Gov. Gavin Newsom tweeted that he was “at a hospital meeting with victims of a mass shooting when I am pulled away to be briefed on another shooting. This time in Half Moon Bay. Tragedy upon tragedy.”
On January 16, a teenage mother and her baby were among six people killed in a shooting at a home in California’s Central Valley.