Suspect in Half Moon Bay Mass Shooting Allegedly 'Targeted' Victims: 'Workplace Violence'

The suspect allegedly used a legally obtained semi-automatic weapon to shoot "individuals that he targeted," the sheriff announced Tuesday

HALF MOON BAY, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 23: A San Mateo County sheriff deputy checks in FBI agents as they arrive at the scene of a shooting on January 23, 2023 in Half Moon Bay, California. Seven people were killed at two separate farm locations that were only a few miles apart in Half Moon Bay on Monday afternoon. The suspect, Chunli Zhao, was taken into custody a few hours later without incident. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Half Moon Bay shooting. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty

The man suspected of killing seven people in Half Moon Bay, Calif., allegedly targeted specific individuals at his workplace, authorities announced.

Speaking with reporters on Tuesday, San Mateo County Sheriff Christina Corpus said Chunli Zhao, 66, used a legally obtained semi-automatic weapon to shoot and kill "individuals that he targeted... What we know is this turned into a workplace violence incident, and he had an opportunity, we believe, to hurt other people, but he targeted individuals that he went after and pursued."

"He wasn't a red flag for us, nothing to put him on our radar," Corpus said, noting the suspect did not have a criminal history. "He was known to the individuals at his workplace because he was employed there."

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Jeff Chiu/AP/Shutterstock (13732338b) Police tape is placed near the scene of a shooting, in Half Moon Bay, Calif. Multiple people were killed in two related shootings Monday at a mushroom farm and a trucking firm in a coastal community south of San Francisco, and officials say a suspect is in custody Northern California Fatal Shooting, Half Moon Bay, United States - 23 Jan 2023
Half Moon Bay shooting. Jeff Chiu/AP/Shutterstock

The deadly massacre unfolded Monday afternoon across two locations in Half Moon Bay, a rural Northern California community, with one shooting occurring at a mushroom farm and the second shooting at a nearby trucking facility.

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About two hours later, Zhao, a farmworker, was taken into custody without incident outside of a San Mateo County Sheriff's substation in Half Moon Bay, where he was spotted sitting in his car.

In a statement obtained by The Washington Post, Aaron Tung, a spokesperson for Concord Farms, where both shootings took place, said, "We are shook, and very eager to gain more information from the authorities and their investigations. Our hearts are with the victims, their families and the Chinese American community — from Half Moon Bay to Monterey Park."

The names of those killed are being withheld pending next of kin notification, but Half Moon Bay Mayor Deborah Penrose told CNN many of the victims are believed to be of Asian descent. "We do know that some of the victims were Chinese, that the perpetrator was Chinese and that this was an agricultural community — they were agricultural workers."

Chunli Zhao
Chunli Zhao.

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Jail records indicate Zhao faces charges of premeditated murder and first-degree attempted murder, in addition to a firearms enhancement.

He is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday.

The shooting in Half Moon Bay comes on the heels of another brutal massacre in California's Asian community on Saturday that left 11 people dead in Monterey Park.

The day after that mass shooting, the suspect, Huu Can Tran, 72, fatally shot himself in a van as authorities closed in on him.

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