Authorities are working to figure out why a 67-year-old man may have killed seven people in a small coastal city near San Francisco – the third mass shooting to stun California in as many days and one that left’s another Asian American community reeling.
Just hours after the suspect in Monday’s attacks in Half Moon Bay, Chunli Zhao, was taken into in custody while parked at a sheriff’s substation with a semi-automatic handgun in his vehicle, someone else was killed and seven people injured in a spray of bullets along a road in Oakland, the San Mateo sheriff and Oakland police said.
Following the fatal shooting of 11 people by a 72-year-old gunman during Lunar New Year celebrations in Monterey Park, the slaughters pushed the state’s tally of carnage to 19 dead in mass shootings in just 44 hours – and contributed to 39 mass shootings clocked so far this year in America’s gun violence scourge.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom had been at a hospital meeting victims of the Monterey Park carnage when he was “pulled away to be briefed about another shooting – this time in Half Moon Bay,” he said.
“Tragedy upon tragedy,” Newsom tweeted.
“This kind of shooting is horrific,” San Mateo County Sheriff Christina Corpus said Monday night as she detailed the shootings at two sites in the Half Moon Bay community of some 11,000. “It’s a tragedy that we hear about far too often but today has hit home here in San Mateo County.”
Investigators were working with the district attorney to interview Zhao, of Half Moon Bay, who was cooperating with authorities after he was apprehended some two hours after gunfire was reported around 2:22 p.m., the sheriff said.
“We do know is that some of the victims were Chinese, that the perpetrator was Chinese and that this was an agricultural community – they were agricultural workers,” Half Moon Bay Mayor Deborah Penrose told “CNN This Morning” on Tuesday.
One shooting unfolded at a mushroom farm and another near a trucking facility about two miles away, San Mateo County Board of Supervisors President Dan Pine said. Officers found four victims dead and one wounded at one site and three others dead at the other, Corpus said. Where the shooting began is still under investigation.
The injured person was in critical condition at a hospital Monday night, Corpus said.
The mushroom farm’s owners had no past knowledge of the gunman or his motive, they said in a statement.
“We are shook and very eager to gain more information from the authorities and their investigations,” Concord Farms said in the statement to CNN. “Our hearts are with the victims, their families and the Chinese American community – from Half Moon Bay to Monterey Park.”
His own city still dazed by the violence, the mayor of Monterey Park offered condolences to Half Moon Bay residents, saying the community is now on the “long road of recovery.”
“I know what is in store for them in the next few days,” Mayor Henry Lo said.
The Half Moon Bay community must unite in healing – and support each other to address gun violence – San Mateo County Supervisor Ray Mueller said.
“There were farm workers affected tonight; there were children on the scene at the incidents. This is a truly heartbreaking tragedy in our community,” Mueller said.
Mueller spoke to the mental health toll the violence has unleashed in the community and urged people to seek help, especially as the city has been trying to recover from the impact of recent deadly flooding that stretched across large swaths of the state.
“Please take advantage of the mental health crisis counseling that is available,” he said, adding anyone can reach out to the county’s hotline. “You are not alone.”
Half Moon Bay Vice Mayor Joaquin Jimenez also urged residents to seek mental health counseling.
“This is something that we get to watch on the news. Never think that it’s gonna come and hit home,” Jimenez said. “Today, we are the news. Our community has been affected.”