The small community of Half Moon Bay, Calif. is grieving Tuesday in the wake of shootings that killed seven and injured another in two farm locations within the city. It’s the third mass shooting in California alone in just the past eight days and, according to San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe, it is unprecedented in scale for the area. Half Moon Bay is ground zero for surfing Maverick’s, where surfers, safety personnel and other watercraft launch from the harbor to access the wave.
“We’ve never had one in this county — of this many deaths at one scene,” Wagstaffe said while addressing the media Tuesday morning. For that reason, local authorities have said they’ll be vigilant about the details of their investigation and what they’ve learned about the shooting, which first took place at Mountain Mushroom Farm, just five miles from Pillar Point and the iconic big wave. Concord Farms, the second location involved in the same incident is just over a mile south.
San Mateo County Sheriff Christina Corpus confirmed the suspect, Chunli Zhao, 66, was an employee of Mountain Mushroom Farm who used a legally-purchased semi-automatic pistol to commit what’s now the 37th classified mass shooting in the nation in the first 24 days of 2023, according to Gun Violence Archive. The database classifies a mass shooting as an act of gun violence killing a minimum of four or more victims, not including the shooter.
“The only connection between the suspects and the victims is that they may have been co-workers,” Sheriff Corpus said. “All of the evidence we have points to this being an instance of workplace violence.”
“This is a case that’s at the beginning stage. It has a long road to travel over the coming months and years,” Wagstaffe added. ” To that extent, we don’t want to try it out in the public eye but instead, we will ultimately handle this case in one of the courtrooms in that building.”
The victims were seven adult men and one woman, all of which were agriculture workers and presumably employees at the two locations. San Mateo County Sheriffs representatives told the press Tuesday that they were not immediately releasing more information about the victims, including their identities or whether or not the suspect had intentionally targeted any of them individually.
“I will say there were no specific indicators that would have led us to believe that he (Zhao) was capable of something like this,” said another spokesperson for the San Mateo County Sheriff. “He was not known to us or to have any sort of indicators that would have led us to believe this was something he would have done.”
The Inertia will share more relevant details as they are made available.