Farmworker Charged With Killing 7 Coworkers

Chunli Zhao targeted current, former colleagues in mass shooting, authorities say
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 25, 2023 6:45 PM CST
Half Moon Bay Suspect Charged With 7 Murders
FBI officials walk towards from the crime scene at Mountain Mushroom Farm, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023, after a gunman killed several people at two agricultural businesses in Half Moon Bay, Calif.   (AP Photo/Aaron Kehoe)

The man accused of killing seven people Monday in what authorities say appears to have been a workplace rampage in Half Moon Bay, California, was charged Wednesday with seven counts of murder and one count of attempted murder. Authorities say Chunli Zhao, 66, targeted current and former coworkers at two mushroom farms in the mass shooting, the AP reports. The San Mateo County Coroner's Office identified the victims as: Zhishen Liu, 73; Qizhong Cheng, 66; Marciano Martinez Jimenez, 50; Yetao Bing, 43; Aixiang Zhang, 74; and Jingzhi Lu, 74, reports USA Today. According to charging documents, Jose Romero Perez was the seventh person killed, and Pedro Romero Perez was seriously injured.

San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaff said Zhao had been scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday, but it was put back until Feb. 16. Wagstaff, who said the shooting was the deadliest in the county's history, declined to discuss a possible motive, saying he wanted to ensure Zhao gets a fair trial, the AP reports. Wagstaff said Zhao is from China and has been in the US for at least 12 years. CNN reports that Zhao's hands were shaking and he covered his face with a piece of paper when he entered the courtroom Wednesday. He is being held without bail. KGO reports Zhao had worked for five or six years at Mountain Mushroom Farm, the first shooting site, and lived on the property.

Court records show that after Zhao quit another job 10 years ago, he was accused of threatening to kill a former coworker and trying to suffocate the man, the San Francisco Chronicle. The records show that Yingjui Wang filed for a temporary restraining order against Zhao in 2013, saying his roommate and former coworker at a San Francisco restaurant made death threats and "took a pillow and started to cover my face and suffocate me" after demanding that Wang resolve workplace issues he had no control over. The order, which was issued in March 2013 and expired in July of that year, barred Zhao from owning a gun. Police say Zhao legally owned the semi-automatic handgun found in his vehicle after his arrest. (Read more mass shootings stories.)

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