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

ByKate G Eby KGO logo
Friday, February 17, 2023
Brother of HMB shooting victim details moment he knew sibling was gone
The families of three Half Moon Bay shooting victims speak out as one described the feeling when they were told his brother has died.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The quiet coastal community of Half Moon Bay was shattered by a shooting that left seven people dead and one hurt. Here's a look at that deadly day and the developments that followed.

MORE: Resources for people impacted by Half Moon Bay mass shooting

Jan. 23, 2023

At 2:22 p.m., San Mateo County Sheriff's deputies were dispatched to the 12700 block of San Mateo Road (Highway 92) on a report of a shooting with multiple victims. When they arrived at Mountain Mushroom Farm, deputies found four people dead from gunshot wounds. A fifth person, who was also shot, was taken to Stanford Medical Center with life threatening injuries. Less than three miles away, three additional victims were found dead from gunshot wounds at Concord Farms in the 2100 block of Cabrillo Highway South (Highway 1).

During the investigation, the suspect was identified as Chunli Zhao, a 66-year-old Half Moon Bay resident. At 4:40 p.m., Zhao was located in his vehicle in the parking lot of the Sheriff's Half Moon Bay substation in the 500 block of Kelly Avenue by a deputy. He was taken into custody without incident and the arrest was captured on camera. A weapon was located in his vehicle.

President Biden is briefed on the shooting, as is California Governor Gavin Newsom. This shooting comes just two days after a shooting in Monterey Park, where 11 people were killed and 10 others injured when a gunman opened fire at a dance studio near a Lunar New Year celebration.

Less than one month into 2023, the United States has totaled 36 mass shootings, according to the Gun Violence Archive. Mass shootings are defined by the Archive as an incident in which four or more victims are shot or killed.

Jan. 24, 2023

In a morning update, San Mateo County Sheriff Christina Corpus says that the lone survivor, a man, is out of surgery but remains hospitalized. The victims who were killed include 5 men and 2 women. They are all of Asian or Hispanic descent. Their names have not been released.

She says the suspect, Chunli Zhao, used a legally purchased and owned semi-automatic handgun. San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe says the suspect spoke with investigators for hours after being arrested. Based on his statements, they believe the shootings were an act of workplace violence and not a hate crime. Zhao was a forklift driver at the Mountain Mushroom Farm for five to six years.

Zhao spoke Mandarin while the other workers mostly spoke Spanish. It's not clear the role this may have played in the shooting.

The I-Team finds a decade old civil case which resulted in a restraining order filed against Zhao by a former roommate and coworker.

Governor Gavin Newsom visits Half Moon Bay to meet with first responders and local elected officials. At a press conference packed with politicians, Newsom addressed the prevalence of gun violence in America, including the deadly shooting at Monterey Park which happened just two days before the Half Moon Bay shooting.

Jan. 25, 2023

The names of all victims of the shooting are released in the charging documents filed against Chunli Zhao. They are listed in the order in which investigators believe they were shot.

1. Qi Zhong Cheng, age 66, Half Moon Bay

2. Ye Tao Bing, 43, unknown residence

3. Jing Zhi Lu, 64, Half Moon Bay

4. Jose Romero Perez, 38, unknown residence

5. Pedro Felix Romero Perez (survivor), unknown age or residence

6. Marciano Martinez Jimenez, 50, Moss Beach

7. Zhi Shen Liu, 73, San Francisco

8. Ai Xiang Zhang, 74, San Francisco

RELATED: What to know about the victims killed in the Half Moon Bay mushroom farms mass shooting

Investigators believe the first five victims, including the lone survivor, were shot at Mountain Mushroom Farm. The final three victims are believed to have been shot at Concord Farms.

Zhao is arraigned in San Mateo County Superior Court in Redwood City on seven counts of murder, one count of attempted murder, plus a firearm use enhancement and a special circumstance allegation of multiple murder. The special circumstance makes it a capital murder case in which Zhao could be sentenced to death or to life without the possibility of parole.

Zhao did not enter a plea at today's arraignment. He was appointed two private defenders and is due back in court on Feb. 16 at 1:30 p.m. Zhao is being held without bail.

Speaking after the arraignment, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe says he does not want a change of venue and wants to try this case in San Mateo County. He also said that the suspect is from China and is not a citizen of the United States. Zhao's immigration status is unknown, but Wagstaffe says he has been in the U.S. for at least a decade. Wagstaffe says this shooting was not a copycat act following the Monterey Park shooting.

Jan. 27, 2023

The first vigil is held to honor the victims of the shooting. Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of the Archdiocese of San Francisco visited both of the shooting locations in Half Moon Bay and attended the vigil, which was held at Mac Dutra Park.

Jan. 31, 2023

A series of events offer a chance for people to gather and grieve together, beginning with an interfaith memorial service, followed by a candlelight walk, and ending with dinner and fellowship at IDES Hall in Half Moon Bay.

Feb. 7, 2023

The executive director of ALAS, a farmworker advocacy group that's been helping those impacted by the Half Moon Bay shooting, attends the State of the Union address as a guest of Congresswoman Anna Eshoo.

Feb. 10, 2023

During a hearing in a Redwood City courtroom, a judge grants a request from Chunli Zhao's attorney and issues a gag order in the case. The ruling prohibits attorneys, Zhao, and the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office from talking about the facts and circumstances of the case. Attorneys will be allowed to discuss rulings and procedures deliberated in open court.

Feb. 16, 2023

Chunli Zhao pleads not guilty to seven counts of murder and one count of attempted murder for the shootings in Half Moon Bay.

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

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