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7 killed in Half Moon Bay as California mourns previous mass shooting

7 killed in Half Moon Bay as California mourns previous mass shooting

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HALF MOON BAY, Calif. — A gunman killed seven people at two locations in Half Moon Bay, Calif., on Monday, shaking a state still grieving another mass shooting just days earlier.

Police arrested Zhao Chunli, 67, of Half Moon Bay in connection with the shootings after he was found in his car in the parking lot of a San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office substation in the city, the sheriff’s office said, and there was no ongoing threat to the community .

He was taken into custody “without incident” and was “fully cooperative,” Sheriff Christina Corpus said. Investigators believe he acted alone, she said.

Investigators have not established a motive, according to Capt. Eamon Allen of the sheriff’s department. Local authorities are working with the FBI and have not uncovered a criminal history or past incidents at any of the crime scenes, he said.

Governor Gavin Newsom of California wrote on Twitter that when news of the shooting broke, he was at a hospital meeting victims of Saturday’s mass shooting in Monterey Park. In that attack, a gunman fatally shot 11 people.

“Tragedy after tragedy,” Governor Newsom said.

Monday’s shooting happened around 2:20 p.m. in Half Moon Bay, a coastal town between San Francisco and Santa Cruz. The beaches are a popular surfing destination, and the inland mountains are home to one of the state’s oldest farming communities, which employs migrant workers.

At least one of the two locations was a nursery, the sheriff’s office said.

“There were farm workers affected tonight. There were children at the scene of the accident. This is a truly heartbreaking tragedy in our community,” San Mateo County Supervisor Ray Mueller said at a news conference, where he hinted at storms that hit the area in recent weeks. “The stress that’s been on this community for weeks is really quite great.”

Four people were found dead at the scene near Interstate 92, and a fifth person with life-threatening injuries was taken from that scene to Stanford Medical Center, according to the sheriff’s office. Three more people were found dead about a mile away, on the outskirts of town.

The sheriff’s office said late Monday it was working to identify the victims and notify their families. All of the victims were adults, but some workers lived at the site of one of the shootings along with children, Sheriff Corpus said.

“It was in the afternoon when the kids were out of school,” she said. “For the kids to witness that is indescribable.”

No relationship was known between the two locations. Sheriff Corpus said police believe the suspect was a worker at the nursery where one of the attacks took place. The shooter was driving from one site to another, she said, and a semi-automatic handgun was found in his car.

Video from the parking lot of the substation where the suspect was arrested shows three officers pulling him out of a maroon SUV. He is then pushed to the ground and handcuffed as he lies there.

The suspect spoke Mandarin and had difficulty with English, the sheriff’s office said. Investigators brought in a Mandarin-speaking detective to question him, Capt. Allen said.

Throughout the afternoon, a nonprofit group took people by van from the crime scene to a family reunion center at IDES Portuguese Hall, a community center run by a religious society in downtown Half Moon Bay.

On Monday evening, about 40 people took shelter there. Among them were older people and children, including one playing with a German shepherd police dog.

Although the identities of the victims are unknown, at least one of the shooting scenes was an agricultural site where workers also lived.

Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, president of the California Federation of Labor, said many farmworkers in the region are in a vulnerable position because they have low wages and are often on temporary work visas or are undocumented. The United Farm Workers union has provided emergency aid to the area since the recent floods, she added.

“It’s heartbreaking to think about the families torn apart just trying to live their lives,” said Elizabeth Strather, director of strategic campaigns for the union.

At the community center, workers associated with the group, who have transported people there, spoke in Spanish to some of the families while another nonprofit coordinated the deliveries. A volunteer asked a police officer guarding the door what size diapers they needed.

Sarah Prentiss, 31, began to cry as she walked to the center to drop off the blankets. “You really don’t expect these things to happen in your hometown. And I guarantee someone I know knows someone killed. That’s the community. It is small.”

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