President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden issued a statement early Tuesday expressing grief for the victims in the latest mass shooting in California — this one close to home for us on the San Francisco Peninsula. And we are beginning to learn the names of those who were killed.
"For the second time in recent days, California communities are mourning the loss of loved ones in a senseless act of gun violence," the Bidens said in the statement. "Following a briefing from my homeland security team, I have directed my administration to ensure local authorities and the broader Half Moon Bay community have the full support of the federal government in the wake of this heinous attack."
Biden also noted that in the wake of Saturday's mass shooting in Monterey Park, on Monday, "Senator Feinstein — alongside Senators Murphy, Blumenthal and others — reintroduced a federal Assault Weapons Ban and legislation that would raise the minimum purchase age for assault weapons to 21."
He urged Congress to bring a new federal ban on assault weapons to his desk soon, adding, "Even as we await further details on these shootings, we know the scourge of gun violence across America requires stronger action."
The shootings that took place Monday afternoon at two nearby mushroom farms in Half Moon Bay took the lives of seven individuals, and an eighth victim remains in critical condition at Stanford Medical Center. The victims are believed to be coworkers of the suspected shooter, 67-year-old Zhao Chunli, a resident of Half Moon Bay who turned himself in at a police substation late Monday afternoon and was taken into custody.
San Mateo County Sheriff Christina Corpus said at a news conference late Monday, "All the evidence we have points to this being the instance of workplace violence."
Zhao is being held on charges of premeditated murder and first-degree attempted murder, with an enhancement of discharging a firearm during a violent felony. As NBC Bay Area reports, Zhao will be arraigned today at 1:30 p.m. in Redwood City.
We know via family members that one of the victims in Monday's shooting was Marciano Martinez-Jimenez, whom coworkers knew as Martin. Martinez-Jimenez's nephew, Carlos Martinez-Maya, spoke to ABC 7 while waiting outside Concord Farms, where his uncle worked.
"My mom got a call from my dad — he's crying — saying my brother is in there he's not answering his calls," Martinez-Maya told the station. He later told ABC 7 that the family received confirmation from other coworkers that his uncle was among the victims.
The county coroner has yet to release the names of the other six victims, pending next-of-kin notifications, but it's likely we will know more of them in the coming hours. We now that among the dead are five men and two women, and the sole surviving victim is a man.
Sheriff Corpus said in a statement, "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."
The victims all appear to have been either Latino or Asian farmworkers.
Update: Two more of the victims have been identified by family, though not yet by the coroner, per KTVU. A cousin identified Jose Perez as one of those killed, saying that Perez leaves behind a wife and four children in Oaxaca. Perez's brother, Pedro Perez, is the sole survivor being treated at Stanford Hospital.
As the Los Angeles Times reports, one of the two shootings took place within view of schoolchildren who had just been let out of school at the time it took place.
Zhao was not a "red flag" who was known to authorities, Sheriff Corpus says, and the two weapons he had Monday were both legally registered to him.
"We’re still learning more about this individual but there was nothing that would have elevated" him in terms of concerns about violence, Corpus said, per CNN, adding there was "nothing to put him on our radar."
San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe tells the New York Times, in terms of mass casualty events, "Cases like this — we’ve never had one in this county."
Top image: A San Mateo County sheriff deputy blocks the entrance to a farm following a mass shooting on January 24, 2023 in Half Moon Bay, California. Seven people were killed at two separate farm locations that were only a few miles apart in Half Moon Bay on January 23. The suspect, Chunli Zhao, was taken into custody a few hours later without incident. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)