Friends of Half Moon Bay shooting victims are calling for better wages and living conditions for farm workers (2023)

HALF MOON BAY, Calif. (KGO) --Farmer accused of killing seven peopleShootings at Two Half Moon BayMushroom Farms has been charged with seven murders. Prosecutors filed charges on Wednesday.

Chunli Zhao, 66, was due to appear in court for the first time on Wednesday but was delayed until Feb. 16, San Mateo District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

TIED TOGETHER:What you should know about victims killed in mass shooting at Half Moon Bay mushroom farm

Zhao covered her face with a yellow piece of paper when she first entered the courtroom, and her hands were shaking and bound.

A Mandarin translator was used to relay communications between the court and the suspect. Zhao is being held without bail.

Outside court, Wagstaffe testified that Zhao faces seven counts of murder and one attempted murder. He says the charges "were filed in the order in which we believe they occurred".

HMB shooting suspect denies bail and pleads not guilty at first hearing


More videos

The maximum penalty for these charges would be life imprisonment or the death penalty.

Zhao is currently being held without bail pending his arraignment on Feb. 16.

Authorities believe Zhao acted alone when he entered a mushroom farm in Half Moon Bay and opened fire, killing four and seriously injuring another, San Mateo County sheriff's officials said. He then drove to another nearby farm where he had previously worked and killed three other people, said Eamonn Allen, a sheriff's spokesman.

Who are the victims?

Authorities identified the seven murdered victims:

Zhi Shen Liu, 73, San Francisco birds

Marciano Martinez Jimenez, 50, de Moss Beach

Jose Romero Perez

Ai Xiang Zhang, 74, San Francisco birds

Qi Zhong Cheng, 66, em Half Moon Bay

Ye Tao Bing, 43 years old, address unknown

Jing Zhi Lu, 64, em Half Moon Bay

The criminal complaint filed against Zhao also identified the surviving victim as Pedro Romero Pérez.

Servando Martínez Jiménez said that his brother Marciano Jiménez Martínez, one of the victims, was a provider and manager of one of the farms. He never mentioned Zhao or said anything about problems with other workers.

"He was a good person. He was polite and kind to everyone. He never had any problems with anyone. I don't understand why all this happened," Jiménez Martínez said in Spanish.

VIDEO:Families mourning victims of the Half Moon Bay shooting prepare to bring their loved ones back to Mexico


More videos

Marciano Jiménez Martínez lived in the United States for 28 years after arriving from the Mexican state of Oaxaca. Servando Jiménez Martínez said he was working with the Mexican consulate to bring his brother's body home.

José Romero Pérez's cousin says he leaves a wife and four children in Mexico. He says that when he called his family to let them know he had been murdered, they were in disbelief.

José worked at the Mountain Mushroom Farm with his younger brother, Pedro, who got him the job.

What We Learned About Chunli Zhao

Investigators told ABC7's Stephanie Sierra that Zhao had been a forklift driver at one of the farms for five or six years. He also lived on the farm, which is quite common among workers.

Multiple sources confirmed to the I-Team that the victims were killed execution-style, in what was described as a "cruel and deliberate attack".

Investigators say suspect Chunli Zhao, 66, allegedly mocked aoffensive nickname that may have fueled your angerbefore the attack.

Detectives say Zhao deliberately targeted the eight victims, as the other Asian and Latino farm workers were allegedly involved in an ongoing dispute.

It is still unclear whether it was an isolated case that escalated to the event.

TIED TOGETHER:What we know about Chunli Zhao, suspect in the Half Moon Bay mass shooting

The researchers also raised concerns about the language barrier. Zhao spoke Mandarin, while the other workers mostly spoke Spanish. It is unclear what role this may have played in the shooting.

San Mateo District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe provided further information, saying that based on Zhao's statements, they do not believe it was a hate crime.

"He gave several hour-long statements in this building last night and while I won't go into the statement I will say that we don't think this was a hate crime," Wagstaffe said. "It wasn't a hate crime, it was just, as Sheriff Corpus said, a workplace dispute."

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO:Watch police arrest suspect in deadly Half Moon Bay shooting


More videos

Sources told the ABC7 I-Team that Zhao was reportedly found in his car in the parking lot of the Half Moon Bay Police Department Sheriff's Office after the shooting. Sources say the seat was reclined and the semi-automatic pistol was next to Zhao. The suspect allegedly tried to send a text message to his wife saying "see you in the next life".

AfterCourt documents obtained by ABC7 News I-Team, Zhao once obtained a restraining order against him from a former colleague and roommate, who claimed that Zhao threatened him and once even tried to smother him with a pillow when he lost his job.

Newsom calls out gun control opponents after HMB mass shooting


More videos

On Tuesday, after the tragic shooting, Governor Gavin Newsom held a news conference in Half Moon Bay, where he urged lawmakers to act on federal gun reform.

"I'm still waiting for Kevin McCarthy, Speaker of the House ... We haven't heard a goddamn word from him. Since Monterey Park. That's not what happened here. Not a word," he said.

Newsom said he met with Chinese farm workers who heard the gunshots. Through a translator, they said it was difficult to understand what happened, he said.

"They had never heard a sound like that before," he said.

MORE:Databases show there were more mass shootings than days in the US in 2023

The shooting would likely make some in the community anxious and looking for other work, he said.

“The trauma and damage, the devastation in some cases is felt for generations, communities are torn apart, no one feels safe,” Newsom said.

Friends of Half Moon Bay victims call for more for farm workers

Flowers, candles and signs. The memorial to the seven people killed in Half Moon Bay is growing. Those we spoke to Wednesday night knew that Marciano Martinez, one of the victims he is fond of, was also from Oaxaca, Mexico.

“We said hello and sometimes we just casually chatted about how our days were going and stuff like that, so it's really sad for us to hear about her passing as a result of what happened,” said Lupe Contreras.

“He likes to play the guitar and sometimes I think he plays in church with other friends. It broke my heart and not just me, but the whole city," said Karina Santiago.

The victims were Asian and Mexican immigrants. Many of their relatives are still waiting to return home, staying in hotels paid for by the mushroom farms where they live and work. County officials say they must return home on Friday.

Employees at the California Terra Garden, formerly Mountain Mushroom Farm, where one of the shootings took place, responded by saying, "The shipping containers do not reflect what is on the property", later stating that the workers were in mobile trailers or large recreational vehicles. live animals that have passed district inspections.

He also says that employee wages start at $16.50 and go up to just over $20 an hour, and the farm charges around $300 for a family to live there.

Some we spoke to said they didn't believe it.

“It's not true, many people (field workers) live in precarious conditions and nobody knows. These people don't feel comfortable raising their voices to their bosses”, said Santiago, who we asked: “Did they say that nobody represents them and nobody defends them?” His answer was simply, “Nobody!”

Sad to hear at a time when so many lives have been lost.

An investigation initiated by the Office of the Governor was launched in response to allegations of working conditions.Photos posted by San Mateo County Supervisor Ray Mueller, Cal/OSHA is also getting in on the act now.

A statement issued by an agency representative said:

“Cal/OSHA and the Office of the Commissioner of Labor are investigating possible occupational safety and health violations at the Half Moon Bay construction sites where the mass shootings took place. Both Cal/OSHA and the Office of the Commissioner of Labor want to ensure that employees are safe and receive all the protections provided by California labor laws.

In California, workers in agriculture and most other industries, regardless of immigration status, are protected by California labor laws and health and safety regulations.

Within the Department of Industrial Relations, neither Cal/OSHA nor the Office of the Labor Commissioner requests or tracks the immigration status of workers."

in an opinion

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

get thatThe latest information on the deadly shootings at Half Moon Bay here.

If you use the ABC7 News app,Click here to watch live

Copyright © 2023 KGO-TV. All rights reserved.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Aracelis Kilback

Last Updated: 04/07/2023

Views: 6175

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (64 voted)

Reviews: 87% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Aracelis Kilback

Birthday: 1994-11-22

Address: Apt. 895 30151 Green Plain, Lake Mariela, RI 98141

Phone: +5992291857476

Job: Legal Officer

Hobby: LARPing, role-playing games, Slacklining, Reading, Inline skating, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Dance

Introduction: My name is Aracelis Kilback, I am a nice, gentle, agreeable, joyous, attractive, combative, gifted person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.