Gunfire as children watched: What we know about the Half Moon Bay shooting

Law enforcement outside a farm building
Police investigate the scene of a mass shooting off Cabrillo Highway in Half Moon Bay, Calif., on Monday.
(Karl Mondon / Bay Area News Group )

The gunfire rang out Monday afternoon in the farms that dot the coastal hills of San Mateo County in and around Half Moon Bay.

When it was over, seven people were dead at multiple agricultural locations. Then, the alleged gunman was found parked next to a Sheriff’s Office substation, where he was taken into custody. It came two days after the mass shooting in Monterey Park and less than two weeks after the Goshen, Calif., shooting that left six dead.

Here is what we know:

Where were the shootings?

  • The violence occurred at two farms about a mile apart.
  • Authorities found the first four victims shot to death in the 12700 block of San Mateo Road in an unincorporated area of the county just before 2:30 p.m. A fifth victim was also found in the area and taken to Stanford Medical Center with life-threatening injuries,
  • Minutes later, in an area about a mile away in the 2100 block of Cabrillo Highway, deputies found three more victims dead of apparent gunshot wounds.
  • San Mateo County Sheriff Christina Corpus said some of the victims were killed in front of children who lived nearby and had recently been released from school. “For children to witness this is unspeakable,” she said.

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What do we know about the gunman?

  • He was identified as Chunli Zhao, and authorities said he was an employee on one of the farms. He is believed to be a resident of Half Moon Bay.
  • He was spotted sitting in his car at the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office substation in Half Moon Bay at about 4:40 p.m., officials said. Video from ABC 7 showed deputies taking a man to the ground in the parking lot. The man was wearing a white cap, vest and red long-sleeve shirt.
  • Authorities said they are still trying to determine a motive.

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What about the victims?

  • The names of those shot have not been released. They are believed to be workers on the farms.
  • A reunification center was set up for farmworkers displaced by the shootings. San Mateo County Supervisor Ray Mueller was at the center Monday night to speak to displaced farmworkers and families of the victims. He said that one family found out in front of him that their relative had died in the shooting. He estimated that about 30 to 40 people were there with him as of 7:30 p.m.

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