Half Moon Bay farmworkers return to work 'scared' one week after mass shooting

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Tuesday, January 31, 2023
HMB farmworkers return to work 'scared' a week after shootings
Half Moon Bay farmworkers returned to work on Monday, many still traumatized and "scared" a week after the deadly mass shooting.

HALF MOON BAY, Calif. (KGO) -- It's been a week since seven people were killed at two mushroom farms in Half Moon Bay. At California Terra Garden where the shooter killed four of his coworkers, the gate was open and we confirmed that workers went back on Monday.

Off camera, one of the workers leaving the farm said he was still "scared" going back to work.

"They met with human resources from the company and they were given as an option if they wanted to go back to work. They felt like they wanted to go back to work," said Joaquin Jimenez, Vice Mayor of Half Moon Bay.

TIMELINE: An in-depth look at the Half Moon Bay mass shooting that killed 7

According to Vice Mayor Jimenez, Concord Farms is still closed. Three workers were killed here. We met a Chinese couple who lived at the farm. They wanted to remain anonymous. The husband worked at the farm for six years. In Mandarin, the wife told my colleague Kristen Sze on the phone that she heard the gunshots and saw her neighbor's body on the ground.

She is still traumatized and couldn't sleep for three days. They've decided not to go back to work. Vice Mayor Jimenez believes that many of the farmworkers chose to go back because they were afraid to lose their jobs.

"With the farm-working community, there is a lot of fear. About losing their job. If they are undocumented, getting deported and losing their housing and there is fear. They are going to try to go along as they think the best decision is," said Jimenez.

California Terra Garden's team said no one would've lost their jobs and regarding housing, they said they are working on building permanent housing, "the company expects the development project to take approximately one year to complete and receive all operating state and local permits."

VIDEO: 'Deplorable' living conditions at Half Moon Bay mushroom farm where multiple farmworkers were killed

We are learning more details about the living conditions farmers were living under at California Terra Garden farm in Half Moon Bay.

For the past week, San Mateo County has been paying for farmworkers from Concord Farms and California Terra Garden to stay at hotels, a help that will continue until they get them stable housing. Some believe that going back is part of their healing.

"A lot of tears. Memories of people that lost their lives," said Jimenez, "There is trauma and they might find the healing that they need going back to the same location where this tragedy happened," said Jimenez.

Full statement from David Oates, spokesperson for California Terra Garden:

"California Terra Garden announced today that it will construct new permanent home structures on a separate area of the property for its employees and their families. This decision came out after collaborative discussions with local officials that uncovered a series of code and permitting requirements unknown before the tragic shootings that occurred last week. The company expects the development project to take approximately one year to complete and receive all operating state and local permits. In the interim, California Terra Garden is grateful for local officials that are working with the company to develop a plan that will provide its employees and their families affordable housing in the area for the next 12 months. The company will also continue providing above market wages and benefits to all its team members."

TAKE ACTION: Resources for people impacted by Half Moon Bay mass shooting

Get the latest on the deadly Half Moon Bay shootings here.

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