February 1, 2023

Chunli Zhao: Half Moon Bay shooting suspect legally owned his gun and targeted specific people, authorities said. Here’s what we know about him

4 min read


Man A mushroom farm in California is suspected of killing four people. And three other people at a nearby location were in legal possession of a semi-automatic weapon that was registered to him, San Mateo County Sheriff Christina Corpus said.

The suspect, identified by authorities as 66-year-old Chunli Zhao, was not known to local law enforcement before the massacre and as far as the sheriff’s office was aware, the corps told CNN Tuesday morning. It didn’t show any red flags.

“Prior to this incident, there was nothing to be concerned about at that time that gave us any kind of elevation or excitement,” the sheriff said.

Chunli Zhao, 66.

It was a case, the sheriff continued, where someone “gets ripped off” and “innocent people get killed.”

Officials found four people dead and one person injured at the mushroom farm and moments later, three more people were found dead at a separate location about two miles away, officials said.

The sheriff described the attack as an “incident of workplace violence,” saying Zhao targeted specific people and, although he had the opportunity to hurt others, he did not. pursued

The sheriff’s office described the suspect as a “co-worker or former co-worker” of the victims at each shooting location.

San Mateo County Chief Deputy District Attorney Sean Gallagher said Zhao is expected to appear in court Wednesday afternoon.

Many questions remain unanswered about the attack, including what could have motivated the shooting, who the victims were and why they were targeted.

But what do we know about the suspected gunman?

County officials said officials were unaware of “predisposing factors” that would lead to Zhao’s attack.

But it wasn’t the first time he was accused of violence against someone he worked with, court records obtained by CNN show.

Zhao was granted a temporary restraining order in 2013 after a former co-worker and roommate accused him of assault and threats.

Ying Jiu Wang, who worked with Zhao at a restaurant and lived with him in an apartment in San Jose, wrote in a court declaration that Zhao’s violent behavior began after he quit his job in March 2013. .

Two days later, Zhao came to Wang’s room early in the morning and asked for his salary. When Wang asked to take him to the restaurant, Zhao said he would kill Wang, and then “took a pillow over my face and started suffocating me,” Wang wrote.

“When I (couldn’t breathe), I used all my strength to push him away from my blanket in a few seconds,” Wang wrote. She said she called for help and another roommate came to the door, but Zhao allegedly locked it. According to Wang, the two men ended up wrestling on Wang’s bed before Zhao calmed down.

Two days later, she wrote, Zhao threatened her again, saying, “If he can’t return to work, he can use a knife to cut off my head.” Wang wrote that he had no control over Zhao’s employment status at the restaurant.

According to court paperwork, a judge issued a temporary restraining order against Zhao, barring him from getting too close to Wang and prohibiting him from owning or buying a gun. The restraining order expired in July 2013. A lawyer for Zhao in the 2013 complaint did not respond to requests for comment and Wang could not be reached for comment.

This incident was reported first San Francisco Chronicle.

Zhao lived in the first property, where four victims were killed, for about seven years, according to David Oates, a spokesman for Terra Garden in California.

The site, formerly known as Mountain Mushroom Farm, was acquired by the company California Terra Garden in March 2022, Oates said.

Oates added that there are several mobile homes and trailers for employees on the property, where the suspect lived.

Zhao was one of about 35 employees working at the farm, the spokeswoman said, adding that in the background checks all employees undergo, “there was no possibility that there was anything to indicate was not.”

An employee who did not want to be named told CNN he had known the suspect for about six years and considered him friendly and a “good guy.” The employee said the two were colleagues at the farm and both were working on Monday.

The employee told CNN that he took cover when the shooting started and when the shooting stopped, he saw the suspect fleeing the scene on a forklift.

Zhao, who authorities believe acted alone, was arrested about two hours after authorities first received reports of the shooting.

Deputies were dispatched just after 2:20 p.m. local time. Around 4:40 p.m., the suspect was taken into custody after authorities found him in his vehicle in the parking lot of the Sheriff’s Office Half Moon Bay Police Substation, the sheriff’s office said. A news release.

The release added that a weapon was also recovered from his vehicle.

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