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Half Moon Bay Mass Shooting Suspect Charged with Seven Counts of Murder and One Count of Attempted Murder

On Monday, January 24, 2023, Chunli Zhao, a 67-year-old Half Moon Bay resident, was charged with seven counts of murder and one count of attempted murder in a mass shooting at two separate locations in Half Moon Bay, California.[0] Zhao was arrested in the parking lot of the sheriff’s Half Moon Bay Substation more than two hours after the shooting, after a deputy noticed his maroon SUV in the lot.[1] He was ordered out of the vehicle and was taken into custody without further incident.[2]

Authorities found a semi-automatic handgun, several rounds of ammo, and a goodbye note Zhao had written to his wife in the vehicle.[3] Six of the seven victims were identified as Zhishen Liu, 73, of San Francisco; Marciano Martinez Jimenez, 50, of Moss Beach, California; Aixiang Zhang, 74, of San Francisco; Qizhong Cheng, 66, of Half Moon Bay; Jingzhi Lu, 64, of Half Moon Bay; and Yetao Bing, 43, whose hometown was unknown.[4] Jose Romero Perez was identified as the other person killed and Pedro Romero Perez the eighth victim, who survived the shooting.[5]

On Wednesday, Jan. 25, Zhao made his first court appearance and was charged with seven counts of murder and one count of attempted murder by the San Mateo District Attorney’s Office.[6] He was booked into the San Mateo County Maguire Correctional Facility in Redwood City on seven counts of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree attempted murder.

California Governor Gavin Newsom expressed his frustration at the frequency of shootings in the state after meeting with families of the victims in Half Moon Bay, speaking to the media at the I.D.E.S. Hall. Newsom said he was meeting victims of the Monterey Park shooting that occurred on Saturday when he heard about the shootings on the Coastside.[7] He commented that the disaster had brought to light the filthy living and working conditions of San Mateo County farmworkers.[7]

In a jailhouse interview with NBC Bay Area reporter Janelle Wang on Thursday, Zhao admitted to the murders.[8] He has a wife he lives with in Half Moon Bay and a 40-year-old daughter who lives in China.[0] Zhao's charges include additional allegations that could result in the death penalty or life in prison without parole, though Gov. Gavin Newsom has issued a moratorium on executions.[9]

0. “Exclusive: Suspect Admits to Half Moon Bay Mass Shooting in Jailhouse Interview” NBC Bay Area, 27 Jan. 2023, https://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/half-moon-bay-shooting-suspect-interview/3140537/

1. “Suspect in Half Moon Bay shootings charged with 7 counts of murder; some victims identified” CBS News, 26 Jan. 2023, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/half-moon-bay-shooting-suspect-chunli-zhao-charged-7-counts-murder-some-victims-identified/

2. “Suspect in Half Moon Bay shootings was employee of farm where 5 where shot” Mountain View Voice, 24 Jan. 2023, https://mv-voice.com/news/2023/01/24/suspect-in-half-moon-bay-shootings-was-employee-of-farm-where-5-where-shot

3. “Half Moon Bay shooting: Massacre fueled by simmering tensions among farmworkers, sources say” The Mercury News, 26 Jan. 2023, https://www.mercurynews.com/2023/01/26/half-moon-bay-shooting-massacre-fueled-by-simmering-tensions-among-farmworkers-sources-say

4. “‘Tragedy upon tragedy': 44 hours. 3 mass shootings. 19 dead” CNN, 27 Jan. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/01/25/us/california-three-mass-shootings-19-killed/index.html

5. “Half Moon Bay Shootings: Accused gunman Chunli Zhao tells NBC Bay Area he killed farm co-workers” KCRA Sacramento, 26 Jan. 2023, https://www.kcra.com/article/half-moon-bay-shootings-accused-gunman-chunli-zhao-tells-nbc-bay-area-he-killed-farm-co-workers/42679127

6. “Five Chinese citizens were killed in Half Moon Bay shooting, consulate says” CNN, 27 Jan. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/01/27/us/half-moon-bay-shooting-chinese-citizens-intl-hnk/index.html

7. “Governor meets with families in HMB | Local News Stories | hmbreview.com” Half Moon Bay Review, 25 Jan. 2023, https://www.hmbreview.com/news/governor-meets-with-families-in-hmb/article_f487d9f6-9c45-11ed-a514-b7820cad0827.html

8. “Half Moon Bay Shooting Suspect Admits to Murders In Jailhouse Interview, Suggests He Might Have Mental Illness” SFist, 26 Jan. 2023, https://sfist.com/2023/01/26/half-moon-bay-shooting-suspect-admits-to-murders-in-jailhouse-interview-suggests-he-might-have-mental-illness/

9. “Half Moon Bay shooting suspect charged with 7 counts of murder” KTVU FOX 2 San Francisco, 25 Jan. 2023, https://www.ktvu.com/news/half-moon-bay-shooting-suspect-charged-with-7-counts-of-murder