Half Moon Bay shooting suspect charged with seven counts of murder, denied bail

The man suspected of killing four people at a California mushroom farm and three others at a nearby site earlier this week was charged Wednesday with seven counts of murder.

Chunli Zhao, 66, was denied bail, and his first court appearance in San Mateo County was postponed until Feb. 16. Zhao was also charged with one count of attempted murder, firearm use enhancements and a count of special circumstance allegation of multiple murder.

He was denied bail in part because he’s “not a citizen of this country” and now has “plenty of reason to run” to his native China, local District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said at a press conference, according to KQED.

Zhao is accused of fatally shooting seven people and wounding an eighth in what authorities have dubbed “an instance of workplace violence.”

On Monday, he unleashed a barrage of bullets at a mushroom farm where he once worked in the city of Half Moon Bay, according to police. Four people were fatally struck in the gunfire and a fifth was wounded. From there, Zhao traveled about two miles to a second location, where he allegedly shot and killed another three people.

The local coroner identified six of the victims on Wednesday: Zhishen Liu, 73; Marciano Martinez Jimenez, 50; Aixiang Zhang, 74; Qizhong Cheng, 66; Jingzhi Lu, 64; and Yetao Bing, 43. Jose Romero Perez, 38, was also killed in the attack and his 22-year-old brother Pedro was wounded, family members told Bay Area News Group.

San Mateo County Sheriff Christina Corpus said the shooter appeared to target specific people. She noted that “he went after and pursued” certain individuals while allowing others to flee. So far, his exact connection with the victims remains unclear outside of the fact they were likely all co-workers.

Zhao was arrested hours after the mass shooting Monday when officers spotted his vehicle in the parking lot of the Half Moon Bay police substation. A search of his car also turned up the weapon he allegedly used to carry out the massacre.

With News Wire Services