Dispute over $100 repair bill may have played a role in Half Moon Bay shootings that left 7 dead, district attorney says

Dispute over 0 repair bill may have played a role in Half Moon Bay shootings that left 7 dead, district attorney says


A dispute over a $100 repair bill may have contributed to two shootings that killed seven and injured another in Half Moon Bay, Calif., last week, the San Mateo County District Attorney told a local news station.

Chunli Zhao – the farm worker who faces seven counts of murder and one attempted murder in connection with the attack – “had a dispute with the first victim over a $100 bill” over the cost of repairing a farm involved in an accident device at the California Terra Garden, the mushroom farm where Zhao worked, and allegedly killed his first four victims, Steve Wagstaffe told KTVU.

“We don’t think any of the behavior is justified,” Wagstaffe said. “But we still have a lot to learn.”

Wagstaffe’s comments came shortly after Zhao, 66, reportedly admitted in an interview with NBC Bay Area News to carrying out the shootings, which stunned the coastal town of Half Moon Bay amid a spate of mass shootings in California that lasted over about 44 hours 19 people lost their lives.

CNN was unable to independently confirm what Zhao said in the interview and has reached out to his attorneys for comment.

The suspect’s testimony to law enforcement “concurred with what he told reporters,” Wagstaffe told CNN Monday, citing the NBC Bay Area News interview.

“But I don’t state it as a fact that[the dispute over the $100 bills]started the shooting,” he said. “There is still much more research to be done. But it’s certainly what Zhao says.”

Last Monday, officials responded to the mushroom farm and found four dead and one wounded before finding three more dead at another location about 2 miles away, officials said.

Zhao, a Chinese national, was a “colleague or former employee” of the victims, and he is said to have targeted certain individuals, San Mateo County Sheriff Christina Corpus told CNN, characterizing the attack as a “workplace violence incident.”

In a 15-minute interview conducted in Mandarin, Zhao told NBC Bay Area’s Janelle Wang that he wasn’t in his right mind and didn’t know “what was going on mentally” when the shooting happened, Wang said. The suspect expressed remorse and said he regretted the attacks and told the reporter he believes he has some type of mental illness that he has been struggling with for some time.

In a statement last week, a spokesman for California Terra Garden said that all employees “had background checks, and there’s no indication that such a thing is even possible,” adding that the company had no knowledge of Zhao’s motive.

The shooting claimed the life of Yetao Bing, 43; Qizhong Cheng, 66; Marciano Martinez Jimenez, 50; Aixiang Zhang, 74; Jingzhi Lu, 64; and Zhishen Liu, 73; according to the San Mateo County Coroner’s Office. The seventh victim has been provisionally identified, but the office is withholding the name pending positive identification and notification of next of kin.

Five Chinese nationals were among the dead, according to the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco.

Zhao’s indictment is scheduled for February 16, when he is expected to file a plea.

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