Seven people were killed in connected shootings at two locations in the coastal northern California city of Half Moon Bay on Monday. The suspect was arrested after driving to a police parking lot, apparently attempting to turn himself in, officials said.
The shooting in Half Moon Bay, about 30 miles south of San Francisco, came on the heels of another mass shooting in the southern California city of Monterey Park on Saturday that killed 11 people.
California Governor Gavin Newsom said he was visiting Monterey Park victims in the hospital when he was called away and informed of the shooting in Half Moon Bay, about 380 miles to the north.
“Tragedy upon tragedy,” Newsom said on Twitter.
The rural area was recently pounded by a series of heavy rainstorms that caused extensive damage, affecting immigrant laborers in the area, farm worker advocates said. A series of atmospheric rivers in the three weeks following Christmas killed 20 people statewide.
San Mateo County Sheriff Christina Corpus identified the suspect as Chunli Zhao, 67, and said he worked at one of the shooting locations. Corpus called the sites nurseries, and other officials said they were staffed by farm workers. Local media described at least one of them as a mushroom farm.
“There were farm workers affected tonight. There were children on the scene at the incidents. This is a truly heartbreaking tragedy in our community,” San Mateo County Supervisor Ray Mueller told reporters. “The amount of stress that’s been on this community for weeks is really quite high.”
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.
Deputies responding to a call found four people dead and a fifth victim with life-threatening wounds at the first location in Half Moon Bay, then found three more dead at another place nearby, Corpus told a news conference.
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 the 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.”
ELEVENTH VICTIM IN MONTEREY PARK
News of the massacre in Half Moon Bay surfaced as police worked through a second full day of their investigation into the shooting at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, just east of downtown Los Angeles, where a gunman shot 11 people to death. Nine others were wounded.
The death toll rose to eleven after a woman in her seventies succumbed to her injuries at a local hospital. Ten victims who authorities said were in their 50s, 60s, and 70s died at the scene of the crime.
Authorities said the suspect, Huu Can Tran, 72, drove next to an adjacent town and barged into a second dance hall but was confronted by the club’s operator, who wrestled the weapon away during a brief scuffle.
Tran, himself a longtime patron of the Star Ballroom, catering mainly to older dance enthusiasts, fled again and vanished overnight.
He shot himself to death in his parked getaway vehicle, a cargo van, on Sunday morning, about 12 hours after his rampage, as police surrounded him in the town of Torrance, south of Los Angeles, authorities said.
It ranked as the deadliest mass shooting ever in Los Angeles County, according to Hilda Solis, a member of the county Board of Supervisors.
Authorities said they had not identified the motive for either of the rampages, which seemed especially baffling in part because the suspects in each were men of retirement age, much older than is typical for perpetrators of deadly mass shootings that have become numbingly routine in the United States.
There have been 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.
Copyright 2022 Thomson/Reuters