The Half Moon Bay shooting suspect had his gun legally and was targeting specific people, authorities said. Here’s what we know about him

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CNN

The man suspected of killing four people at a California mushroom farm and three others at a nearby location was legally in possession of a semi-automatic weapon registered to him, San Mateo County Sheriff Christina Corpus said.

The suspect, identified by authorities as Chunli Zhao, 66, was not known to local law enforcement prior to the massacre and had not shown any warning signs to the sheriff’s office, Corpus told CNN Tuesday morning.

“There was nothing at the time, prior to this incident, that could cheer us up or make us worry about him,” the sheriff said.

This was a case, the sheriff continued, where someone “broke” and “innocent people were killed.”

Officers found four dead and one injured at the mushroom house and moments later found three more dead at another location about two miles away, officials said.

The sheriff described the attack as an “incident of workplace violence” and said Zhao targeted specific people and, while he had the opportunity to injure others, “he pursued and pursued” some people.

The sheriff described the suspect as a “colleague or former colleague” of the victims at each shooting location.

Zhao is expected to appear in court Wednesday afternoon for arraignment, San Mateo County Chief Assistant District Attorney Sean Gallagher said.

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

But here’s what we know about the alleged shooter.

County officials said authorities were unaware of “previous factors” that would have suggested Zhao carried out the attack.

But this wasn’t the first time he’s been accused of violence against someone he worked with, according to court documents obtained by CNN.

Zhao was given a temporary restraining order after a former colleague and roommate accused him of assaulting and threatening him in 2013.

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

Early in the morning two days later, Zhao walked into Wang’s room and asked for his salary. When Wang told him to pick it up from the restaurant, Zhao said he would kill Wang, then “he took a pillow and started covering my face and strangling me,” Wang wrote.

“Although I couldn’t (breathe), within seconds I used all my strength to push him away with my blanket,” Wang wrote. He said he called for help and another roommate came to the door, but Zhao allegedly locked it. The two eventually fought on Wang’s bed before Zhao calmed down, Wang said.

Two days later, he wrote, Zhao threatened him again, saying, “He can use a knife to cut my head off if he can’t get back to work.” Wang wrote that he had no control over Zhao’s work status in the restaurant.

A judge issued a temporary restraining order against Zhao, preventing him from getting too close to Wang and forbidding him from owning or purchasing a firearm, according to court documents. The restraining order expired in July 2013. A lawyer for Zhao in the 2013 lawsuit did not respond to requests for comment, and Wang could not be reached for comment.

The incident was first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle.

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

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

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

Zhao was one of about 35 workers who worked on the farm, the spokesman said, adding that background checks on all workers showed no indication that such a thing was even a possibility.

An employee, who declined to be named, told CNN he had known the suspect for about six years and thought he was a “nice guy.” The two were colleagues on the farm and were both at work on Monday, the worker said.

The employee told CNN he took cover when the shooting started and when the gunfire stopped, he saw the suspect drive off on a forklift.

The suspected gunman in the Half Moon Bay, California, shooting, Chunli Zhao, was apprehended on Jan. 23.

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

Deputies were dispatched shortly after 2:20 p.m. local time. At about 4:40 p.m., the suspect was taken into custody after authorities found him in his vehicle in the police station parking lot near the Half Moon Bay Sheriff’s Office, the sheriff’s office said in a statement. Press.

A weapon was also found in his car, the statement said.

Not all news on the site reflects the site’s point of view, but we automatically transmit and translate this news through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.

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