Pedro Felix Romero Perez was the only one of eight people shot at two Half Moon Bay farms on January 23, and he's just now speaking out about the experience.
It was a shocking mass shooting just a few miles south of San Francisco, and a horrific crime of one immigrant farm worker taking out some kind of rage on his fellow workers.
Romero Perez, 23, left the small town he grew up in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico to seek work in the U.S. and money to send home to his family. He worked at California Terra Garden alongside his older brother Jose, who was killed on January 23rd, while he survived.
As Romero Perez tells NBC Bay Area this week, he came to the region in 2020, and his brother joined him at the mushroom farm in 2021.
He describes how they were resting on their beds in the shipping container where they lived when their coworker Chunli Zhao, knocked at their door. Romero Perez says his brother opened the door, and Zhao immediately began shooting. Romero Perez was shot five times, and he says it took almost a half hour for an ambulance to arrive.
Romero Perez also says he has no idea why he and his brother were targeted by Zhao — and he says, though they worked with him, they only ever communicated with Zhao through hand gestures. Zhao only spoke Mandarin, and Romero Perez and his brother only spoke Spanish.
"The truth is, he's a good person," Romero Perez says of Zhao.
Zhao has pleaded not guilty to seven counts of murder and one count of attempted murder, although he admitted to the killings in a jailhouse interview with NBC Bay Area — and said he suffered from mental illness, had endured much bullying on the job, and was not in his right mind the day of the killings.
He also says he is grateful to be alive, and grateful to the hospital staff at Stanford Medical Center, who nursed him back to health from life-threatening injuries. "It is because of them that I am still here."
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images