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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Barney Davis

Half Moon Bay: ‘Gunman’ arrested after 7 killed in second California shooting in days

This is the moment a suspected gunman is arrested in a parking lot after allegedly shooting seven people dead in the second mass shooting in California in three days.

The suspect was identified as 67-year-old Zhao Chunli, accused of shooting farmworkers in front of families and children at two locations in the coastal city of Half Moon Bay, just south of San Francisco.

The killing spree, at a mushroom farm where Chunli is believed to have worked, came just two days after a shooting claimed 11 lives at a popular dance hall.

San Mateo County Sheriff Christina Corpus said some workers at one facility lived on the premises and children may have witnessed the shooting.

Corpus said officials hadn’t determined a motive for the shooting.


Half Moon Bay Vice Mayor Joaquin Jimenez said the victims included Chinese and Latino farmworkers.

About two hours after first responding, a sheriff’s deputy noticed the suspect, Zhao, in his car parked outside a sheriff’s substation in a strip mall and arrested him, recognising the car by its license plate.

A video of the arrest showed three officers approaching a parked car with drawn weapons. Zhao got out of the car, and the officers pulled him to the ground, put him in handcuffs, and led him away.

The sheriff’s department believes Zhao acted alone.

“We’re still trying to understand exactly what happened and why, but it’s just incredibly, incredibly tragic,” said state Senator Josh Becker, who represents the area and called it “a very close-knit” agricultural community.

Law enforcement, including the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office, investigate a shooting off state Highway 92 in Half Moon Bay, (AP)

“This kind of shooting is horrific,” Corpus said. “It’s a tragedy we hear about far too often, but today it’s hit home here in San Mateo County.”

In a news conference, the sheriff also confirmed that witnesses include children who had recently been let out of school and lived on the rural property.

“For children to witness this is unspeakable,” she said.

The suspect was cooperating with investigators but a motive had yet to be established, Corpus said.

A semi-automatic handgun was found in his car, she said.

Video on ABC 7 from the Bay Area showed the arrest as two men in plainclothes and one uniformed deputy, guns drawn, ordered the man out of his car. The suspect came out, was thrown to the ground and searched for weapons. Multiple uniformed officers quickly arrived on the scene with long guns.


Corpus said investigators speculate that the suspect drove to the station to turn himself in. The description of car and license plate were already circulating among law enforcement when a deputy spotted the car in the parking lot, Corpus said.

A woman who witnessed the arrest told reporters she had gone to the sheriff’s department to get more information as she was involved in agriculture and concerned about the well-being of the farm workers.

“I came down here to find out what I could about the situation and why this happened and I hadn’t expected to get quite that close to it,” Kati McHugh told reporters on the scene. “It was a little too close for my comfort.”

Eleven people are now confirmed to have died in a mass shooting in Monterey Park, US officials confirmed on Monday night.

The first two victims of Saturday’s massacre in California have been named, while the hero who disarmed the shooter has told how he was sure he “was going to die”.

Huu Can Tran killed 11 people at a lunar new year celebration in Monterey Park dance hall before travelling with the weapon to a second dance hall, ten minutes away in Alhambra - where a similar event was going on. There Tran was disarmed by Brandon Tsay, who was working at the hall.

There were 38 mass shootings in the United States in the first 21 days of the year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which describes a mass shooting as four or more people shot or killed, not including the shooter.

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