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66 year old Chunli Zhao, a Chinese citizen, allegedly shot and killed four workers and wounded a fifth employee last January 23rd at California Terra Garden. He then went to nearby Concord Farms, where he had worked previously, and allegedly fatally shot three former co-workers.

Zhao told KNTV-TV in a courthouse interview that he committed the shootings, then drove to the police station to turn himself in. But no one was there, so he waited about two hours in the parking lot for officers to finally approach and arrest him. He said he was bullied and worked long hours on the farms and his complaints were ignored, the station reported. He also told the reporter who interviewed him that he has a green card, but had no problem buying a gun in 2021.  He also said he thinks he is mentally disturbed, according to the report of the interview.

In a jail interview with NBC News Zhao claimed a forklift he was operating was hit by a coworker on a bulldozer and that he was asked to pay $100 to cover the cost of the damage. Zhao went on to say he vented his frustration over the bill 30 minutes before the shooting.

He then went back to confront his boss again, shooting both his supervisor and the coworker he blamed for the accident.

According to CBS News, the San Mateo County District Attorney confirmed a report that the Half Moon Bay mass shooting suspect claimed the incident stemmed from his anger over a $100 equipment bill.

The victims who died have been identified as Zhishen Liu, 73, Aixiang Zhang, 74, Qizhong Cheng, 66, Jingzhi Lu, 64, Marciano Martinez Jimenez, 50, Yetao Bing, 43, and Jose Romero Perez, 38. An eighth victim, Pedro Romero Perez, was critically injured but survived the shooting.

A spokesperson for California Terra Garden confirmed Zhao lived on the property with his wife, but said the farm had no knowledge of any bullying complaints.

Zhao has a history of threatening coworkers, according to court documents obtained by the ABC7 News I-Team. In 2013, Chunli Zhao had a restraining order filed against him by a former roommate and coworker. They both worked at a restaurant when Zhao reportedly lost his job, the documents say.

According to these documents, the roommate says Zhao threatened that if he didn’t get his job back, he would kill him. Zhao, at one point, even held a pillow over his face, reportedly trying to suffocate him.

The documents also note he said, “he wants to come back to work. If this can’t be done, this will be a bigger problem which will not be good, pleasant for anyone.”

He pleaded not guilty to seven counts of murder and one count of attempted murder at his arraignment on February 16. Prosecutors say this was the deadliest attack in San Mateo County’s history.

In the aftermath of this tragedy, Cal/OSHA has now cited the two employers in Half Moon Bay following an investigation into the workplace violence that killed the seven agricultural workers on January 23, 2023.

Cal/OSHA cited California Terra Garden, Inc. for 22 violations, including five classified as serious and one classified as serious accident-related for failing to have a plan or procedures to immediately notify employees of an active shooter threat and instruct them to seek shelter. Total proposed penalties are $113,800.

Concord Farms Inc. was cited for 19 violations, three of them serious, including failure to address previous incidents of workplace violence and develop procedures to correct and prevent this hazard. Total proposed penalties are $51,770.

Both employers were cited for failing to establish a workplace safety plan that evaluated the threat of workplace violence and train workers in a language they can understand. Both employers were also cited for failure to secure labor camp permits for onsite worker housing.

Other state agencies continue to investigate at the worksites, which may result in additional enforcement actions.