The disgruntled worker charged with killing seven people at two mushroom farms in the Northern California city of Half Moon Bay possibly carried out the rampage over a $100 bill for damaged equipment.
Chunli Zhao, 66, told investigators he was incensed by the bill from his boss for damage to heavy construction equipment, sparking his shooting spree, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe told the Bay Area News Group on Friday.
The damage was caused by a collision between Zhao’s forklift and a co-worker’s bulldozer. Zhao insisted that the co-worker was to blame — but his supervisor told him he had to pay.
Enraged, Zhao then allegedly shot the supervisor and co-worker, according to prosecutors.
He then went to the co-worker’s trailer and allegedly killed his wife, before shooting two more employees at the California Terra Garden farm.
The accused gunman then drove to a second mushroom farm, Concord Farms, where he previously worked and killed a former assistant manager who he felt wronged by as well as another couple, NBC Bay Area reported.
Zhao opened fire in front of children who had recently been released from school for the day. In an interview with the television station, Zhao detailed years of bullying and long hours on the farms. He also said he believes he suffers from some kind of mental illness, and was not in the right mind the day he committed the shootings.
Speaking in Mandarin from a county jail in Redwood City, Zhao said he has been in the US for 11 years and has a green card. He said he has a 40-year-old daughter in China and lived with his wife in Half Moon Bay.
Zhao said he purchased the gun in 2021 and was met with no obstacles when making the purchase.
The coroner’s office has named six of the victims: 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.
The charging documents identified Jose Romero Perez as the other person killed and Pedro Romero Perez as the eighth victim, who survived.