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Half Moon Bay shooting a case of workplace violence, sheriff says

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Crime scene tape closes the road to the scene of a mass shooting at Mountain Mushroom Farm in Half Moon Bay, Calif., on Tuesday. Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI
Crime scene tape closes the road to the scene of a mass shooting at Mountain Mushroom Farm in Half Moon Bay, Calif., on Tuesday. Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 24 (UPI) -- Monday's shooting that killed seven people and injured one in Half Moon Bay, Calif., was an instance of workplace violence, San Mateo County Sheriff Christina Corpus said Tuesday.

The accused gunman, 67-year-old Chunli Zhao of Half Moon Bay, opened fire with a semiautomatic handgun at two separate locations on Monday afternoon.

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The victims were Asian and Hispanic workers at two mushroom farms about two miles apart, Corpus said during a press briefing. Zhao worked at one of the farms, Mountain Mushroom.

President Joe Biden pledged the full support of the federal government to the Half Moon Bay community in a statement Tuesday.

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"Jill and I are praying for those killed and injured in the latest tragic shooting in Half Moon Bay, Calif.," the president said.

"For the second time in recent days, California communities are mourning the loss of loved ones in a senseless act of gun violence."

Investigators are still working to determine a motive. The only known connection between Zhao and the victims is that they may have been co-workers.

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Seven victims are males and one is female, though officials did not clarify whether the female is among the dead. The injured victim is out of surgery and stable.

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The coroner's office is identifying the victims and attempting to make contact with family, which Corpus said is a challenge in this case.

"As some of these victims were members of our migrant community, this represents a unique challenge when it comes to notifications and identifications of next of kin," she said.

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Corpus and police spokesman Lt. Eamonn Allen said all evidence points to this being a workplace violence incident.

Zhao was found in his vehicle at a police substation Monday evening. A deputy recognized the vehicle and commanded Zhao to exit it before taking him into custody without incident.

San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said charges are still being determined but will include homicide. Zhao is set to be arraigned on Wednesday afternoon.

"Cases like this, we've never had one in this county of this many deaths at one time," he said. "So it was a very hectic scene."

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