Half Moon Bay shooting: Search for information on accused ‘disgruntled co-worker’

Few details were known publicly Tuesday morning about the man accused of fatally gunning down seven people and wounding an eighth during dual workplace massacres across the popular tourist community of Half Moon Bay.

Authorities suspect the shootings — which took place Monday afternoon at farms on opposite ends of the quaint coastal town south of San Francisco — were carried out by Chunli Zhao, a resident of Half Moon Bay. San Mateo County Supervisor Dave Pine told The Associated Press that Zhao was a “disgruntled co-worker,” though it was not clear which facility he had worked at.

Zhao, 66, was arrested in a sheriff’s substation parking lot at about 4:40 p.m. Monday when a deputy noticed him sitting inside his car and ordered him out of the vehicle. He emerged with his hands in the air, prompting deputies to take him to the ground before handcuffing him and leading him into the substation.

On dramatic video captured at the substation, Zhao could be seen being walked inside the building, wearing a red long-sleeved shirt, a grey vest, blue jeans and a white ball cap.

Zhao appeared to act alone in the shootings, the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office said. But further details about Zhao — including where he worked and a possible motivation for the bloodshed — remained scant Tuesday morning as investigators continued to piece together evidence in the case.

San Mateo County District Attorney Stephen Wagstaffe said in an email that he expected Zhao to be arraigned Wednesday afternoon, though the specific charges Zhao might face were not detailed.

An owner of Concord Farms, where the second shooting spree happened, told the Bay Area News Group late Monday evening she did not recognize the name of the alleged gunman. Three employees of the decades-old mushroom farm died in the shooting spree, including a manager who had spent 27 years at the business, said the owner, who asked not to be named.

“This kind of thing should never happen, no matter where,” she said. “They are innocent. Nobody knows why this happened — why this guy came to our farm.”

The owners of Mountain Mushroom Farm, where the violence began at about 2:20 p.m. Monday afternoon, could not immediately be reached for comment. Four people died there, and another person was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries.

Kati McHugh, who described herself as a member of the local agricultural community, was at the sheriff’s substation awaiting a news conference when Zhao was taken into custody. His arrival caught her by surprise.

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“He was quiet,” said McHugh, adding that she hoped Zhao came to turn himself in. “He didn’t react much when he was taken down and it all happened pretty calmly.”

Check back for updates to this developing story.

Staff reporters Aldo Toledo, Robert Salonga, Austin Turner, Elissa Miolene and Jason Green contributed to this report.