Holly Secon,April Rubin and Jesus Jiménez
What to know about the shootings in Half Moon Bay.
HALF MOON BAY, Calif. — Seven people were shot to death on Monday afternoon in San Mateo County, Calif., the sheriff’s office said, the second mass shooting in the state in three days.
The shooting happened around 2:20 p.m. local time at two separate locations near Highway 92 and the Half Moon Bay city limits, about 30 miles south of San Francisco, the authorities said. An eighth person was transported to Stanford Medical Center with life-threatening injuries.
Here is the latest:
A suspect, Zhao Chunli, 67, of Half Moon Bay, was found in his car in the parking lot of a sheriff’s office substation in Half Moon Bay, the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office said.
Sheriff Christina Corpus said at a news conference on Monday night that the suspect had been taken into custody “without incident,” and that a semi-automatic handgun had been found in his vehicle. The authorities said that he was “fully cooperating,” and that they believe he acted alone.
Sheriff Corpus said that the suspect was believed to be a worker at an agricultural nursery, one of the two shooting sites.
Farmworkers and several children were present when the shootings took place, the sheriff said, adding that it was “unspeakable” that the children witnessed the violence.
“There is no current outstanding threat to the community,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement, which also said that no motive was known.
A family reunification center was set up at the IDES Hall, run by a historic religious society, in Half Moon Bay.
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Jan. 24, 2023, 2:26 a.m. ET
Half Moon Bay is a small seaside town in flux.
HALF MOON BAY, Calif. — The seaside town of Half Moon Bay feels like it is a world away from the nearby Northern California high-tech metropolitan centers of Silicon Valley.
The rural town is tucked between San Francisco and Santa Cruz and is the oldest settlement in San Mateo County. It was founded in the 1800s as an agricultural outpost for a Spanish mission in San Francisco, quickly becoming a popular agricultural and fishing area.
Thanks to the railroad, it grew and became a hot spot during Prohibition, when the region’s famous fog helped runners bring in illegal liquor in the 1920s. A few years later, the town was used by the U.S. Army as a radar site to monitor enemy aircraft approaching the California coast.
It was incorporated as a city in California only in 1959, and today about 12,000 people fit neatly into its 6.25 square miles. The legacy of agriculture and fishing remain. The region’s rich soil and temperate climate lend themselves to the cultivation of decorative flowers and vegetables.
Half Moon Bay is best known for a pumpkin festival that can draw hundreds of thousands of people.
Tourism is a main source of income, with the Ritz-Carlton hotel the biggest employer. Surfing at Half Moon Bay’s four-mile-long stretch of beaches is one of the biggest draws.
At the same time, the city is in flux. As in much of California, real estate prices have soared in the past decade, making some of the city unaffordable to those who have lived there for generations. Meanwhile, the pandemic hit the city hard, as tourism money dried up.
A correction was made on
Jan. 24, 2023
An earlier version of this article included a photo with caption information from AFP via Getty Images that incorrectly identified a beach as Half Moon Bay. The beach was Martin’s Beach.
How we handle corrections
Jan. 24, 2023, 1:02 a.m. ET
Investigators brought in a detective who speaks Mandarin to interview the suspect, who told police he would be cooperating after he was detained, Captain Eamonn Allen of the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office said.
Jan. 24, 2023, 12:50 a.m. ET
About 40 people were sheltering at the I.D.E.S. Portuguese Hall of Half Moon Bay, a large brick community center in downtown, after the deadly shootings on Monday. The group ranged in age from children, including one playing with a German Shephard police dog, to elderly people.
Jan. 24, 2023, 1:28 a.m. ET
All of them had been victims of the shooting or had been displaced from their homes because of the investigation, said Captain Eamonn Allen of the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office.
Jan. 23, 2023, 11:45 p.m. ET
Holly Secon,Soumya Karlamangla and Shawn Hubler
California grapples with a mounting toll of gun violence.
HALF MOON BAY, Calif. — A barrage of gun violence left the nation’s most populous state groping for answers on Tuesday as the death toll from mass shootings in California rose to at least 25 people in a little over a week.
In Northern California, a 66-year-old man was in custody after the shooting deaths of seven people on Monday, including four at a mushroom farm near Half Moon Bay, a coastal community south of San Francisco, and three more at a nearby agricultural nursery. An eighth victim was hospitalized with gunshot wounds, recovering from surgery.
Officials at the San Mateo County Sheriff’s office said the suspect, Zhao Chunli, was an employee at one of the locations and called the shooting an incident of “workplace violence.”
In Southern California, investigators continued their search for a motive in the massacre on Saturday night at a ballroom dancing venue in Monterey Park, a Los Angeles suburb, where 11 people were killed and nine more were wounded. The suspected gunman — Huu Can Tran, 72, a former volunteer dance instructor who the authorities said may have been driven by personal grievances — killed himself on Sunday.
The cases, which bracketed celebration of the Lunar New Year, claimed the lives largely of immigrant victims: Asian Americans in their 50s, 60s and 70s at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio, and Asian and Latino agricultural workers around Half Moon Bay. The suspects were immigrant Asian men in their 60s and 70s — a rare age bracket for assailants in mass shootings.
Those tragedies were only two in a series of shootings this month in a state that, overall, has some of the nation’s lowest mortality rates from gun violence, as well as some of its toughest gun laws.
Eight days ago, in an attack that the authorities compared to a drug cartel-style execution, six people were shot dead in rural Tulare County in Central California, including a 16-year-old girl and her 10-month-old baby. On Monday night, one person was killed and seven people were wounded in a gun battle in Oakland.
In San Mateo County, where details about the Half Moon Bay shooting were still emerging, Assemblyman Marc Berman said the coastal city, which he represents in the legislature, usually feels far from San Francisco and Silicon Valley.
“Half Moon Bay is as close to small-town America as we get in the Bay Area,” he said, adding, “When you get here, you feel like you’re a million miles away from all those problems. Yesterday, all those problems came crashing down.”
Officials said on Tuesday that the suspect in that case worked with some of the victims, and had legally purchased the semiautomatic handgun he used in the shooting. They released few other details.
Half Moon Bay is mostly known for surfing and for an annual pumpkin festival. “Cases like this — we’ve never had one in this county,” said Steve Wagstaffe, the San Mateo District Attorney, “of this many deaths at one scene or one time.”
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Jan. 23, 2023, 11:45 p.m. ET
“Anyone here just trying to do the hard work of putting food on all of our tables, they should be safe at work and safe in their housing,” said Elizabeth Strater, director of strategic campaigns for the United Farm Workers. “It’s heartbreaking to think about the families torn apart just trying to live their lives.”
Jan. 23, 2023, 11:39 p.m. ET
Reporting from Dallas
Scott Wiener, a California state senator, said on Twitter that Half Moon Bay is “now part of the tidal wave of gun violence suffocating our country,” adding that “our country needs the will to say enough.”
— Senator Scott Wiener (@Scott_Wiener) January 24, 2023
Half Moon Bay is a beautiful community just south of SF.
It’s now part of the tidal wave of gun violence suffocating our country.
34 mass shootings in 23 days isn’t normal. If doesn’t have to be this way. There are too many guns. Our country needs the will to say enough.
Jan. 23, 2023, 11:03 p.m. ET
The neighborhood where one of the Half Moon Bay shootings took place is home to a few farms and houses. It is now marked by a heavy police presence.
Jan. 23, 2023, 10:54 p.m. ET
The F.B.I. is assisting in the investigation of the shooting in Half Moon Bay, providing investigative and forensic resources, the bureau’s San Francisco field office said on Twitter. The San Mateo Sheriff’s Office is the lead investigative agency.
The #FBI is assisting the @SMCSheriff in investigating the shooting incident in #HalfMoonBay by providing investigative and forensic resources. The Sheriff's Office is the lead investigative agency at this time. Please follow this thread for any updates.— FBI SanFrancisco (@FBISanFrancisco) January 24, 2023
Jan. 23, 2023, 10:39 p.m. ET
I'm at the suspect's home, which is right off a highway. A swarm of law enforcement officers is at the front door. There are no streetlights. Blue and white flashing lights from a sheriff's car illuminate a back road to the neighborhood between a lot with gas tanks and trucks and a row of tall hedges. No movement is being allowed in or out of the neighborhood.
Jan. 23, 2023, 10:27 p.m. ET
“Two hours ago I joined my colleagues on the Capitol steps for a vigil for the victims of the shooting in Monterey Park,” Marc Berman, a California assemblyman, said on Twitter. “Before we’ve even had a chance to mourn them, there is yet another mass shooting — this time in Half Moon Bay. In my district.”
Two hours ago I joined my colleagues on the Capitol steps for a vigil for the victims of the shooting in Monterey Park. Before we’ve even had a chance to mourn them, there is yet another mass shooting - this time in Half Moon Bay. In my district. https://t.co/JqSl0H1xib— Marc Berman (@AsmMarcBerman) January 24, 2023
Jan. 23, 2023, 10:25 p.m. ET
Sarah Prentice, 31, started crying as she walked down to the community center in downtown Half Moon Bay to drop off blankets. “You don’t really expect these things to happen in your hometown. And I guarantee that someone I know knows someone who was killed. That’s the kind of community it is. It’s small.”
Jan. 23, 2023, 10:25 p.m. ET
Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Twitter that he had been at a hospital, meeting victims of the mass shooting in Monterey Park, “when I get pulled away to be briefed about another shooting. This time in Half Moon Bay. Tragedy upon tragedy.”
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) January 24, 2023
At the hospital meeting with victims of a mass shooting when I get pulled away to be briefed about another shooting. This time in Half Moon Bay.
Tragedy upon tragedy.
Jan. 23, 2023, 10:22 p.m. ET
This is the moment the suspected gunman was taken into custody by the police.
Jan. 23, 2023, 10:17 p.m. ET
Jin Yu Young
Investigators believe that the gunman had one semi-automatic weapon.
Jan. 23, 2023, 10:15 p.m. ET
Some workers lived at the location of one of the shootings, along with children, Sheriff Christina Corpus said. “It was in the afternoon when kids were out of school,” she said. “For children to witness this is unspeakable.”
Jan. 23, 2023, 10:11 p.m. ET
San Mateo County officials expressed anger at the prevalence of gun violence in the United States. “There are simply too many guns in this country, and there has to be a change," said Dave Pine, a San Mateo County district supervisor.
Jan. 23, 2023, 10:10 p.m. ET
Zhao Chunli, the suspect, was fully cooperating with the authorities, Sheriff Christina Corpus said.
Jan. 23, 2023, 10:09 p.m. ET
The victims’ families had not been contacted as of about 7 p.m. local time, Sheriff Christina Corpus said. “We’re waiting to ID the victims,” she said.
Jan. 23, 2023, 10:05 p.m. ET
Jin Yu Young
The two shooting locations were about a mile apart. The gunman moved from one to the other in a vehicle, said Sheriff Christina Corpus.
Jan. 23, 2023, 10:04 p.m. ET
The sheriff’s office was working with the district attorney’s office to interview the suspect. Sheriff Christina Corpus added that she believed he “may have a spouse.”
Jan. 23, 2023, 10:02 p.m. ET
Sheriff Christina Corpus said that the suspect is believed to be a worker at an agricultural nursery where one of the attacks occurred.
Jan. 23, 2023, 10:00 p.m. ET
Jin Yu Young
Several children were present at the scene of the shootings, according to officials.
Jan. 23, 2023, 9:56 p.m. ET
Jin Yu Young
One person at the scene had life-threatening injuries and was transferred to a hospital, according to officials.
Jan. 23, 2023, 9:55 p.m. ET
Downtown Half Moon Bay is empty tonight after the shooting. Churches have been transporting people to a community center, where an official says about 10 people are waiting for information and other people are dropping off items like blankets.
Jan. 23, 2023, 9:54 p.m. ET
Sheriff Christina Corpus of San Mateo County said that a motive for the shootings was not yet known but that the gunman was believed to have acted alone.
Jan. 23, 2023, 9:53 p.m. ET
Jin Yu Young
On Monday night, Sheriff Christina Corpus gave a press conference. The shooting was first reported at 2:20 pm. Upon arrival at the scene, deputies found four bodies with gunshot wounds.
Jan. 23, 2023, 9:51 p.m. ET
The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office identified a second location, where three victims died from gunshot wounds, as the 2100 block of Cabrillo Highway South.
Jan. 23, 2023, 9:51 p.m. ET
San Mateo County Sheriff Christina Corpus will be hosting a news conference at the Half Moon Bay substation shortly.
Jan. 23, 2023, 7:44 a.m. ET
Jin Yu Young
The suspects’ ages stand out among mass shooters.
The gunmen in the shootings on Monday afternoon in Half Moon Bay, Calif., and Saturday night in Monterey Park, Calif., were identified by local authorities as 67- and 72-year-old men. Their ages are rare among the country’s lengthening list of mass killers, who tend to be much younger.
The median age of gunmen in mass shootings in the United States over the past six decades is 32, according to the Violence Project, a nonprofit research center funded by the National Institute of Justice. As of 2020, there has been only one other mass shooter over the age of 70.
Mass shooters tend to “target locations that are representative of the grievances that they have,” says James Densley, the co-founder of the Violence Project and a professor of the School of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice at Metro State University in Minnesota. He added that mass shooters in school settings are often students. The Uvalde and Sandy Hook shootings were carried out by former students of the respective schools.
Monterey Park is a predominantly Asian and Asian American community. Several of the victims in Saturday’s shootings were in their 50s and 60s. The victims of Monday’s shooting have not yet been identified.
While the average age of a mass shooter is in the early 30s, there are clusters who carry out shooting sprees while in their 20s and 40s, a reflection of how these attackers may be in “transitional times” in which “you feel like you don’t fit in, and violence follows,” said Professor Densley. He called the gunman in Monterey Park an “outlier” in terms of his age.
The overwhelming majority of mass shooters in the Violence Project report were men. This likely reflects the social pressure on males to “be stronger, tougher and have the final word, with that final word sometimes being violence,” said Vickie Jensen, a professor in the Department of Criminology and Justice Studies at California State University, Northridge.
Social media has been cited as a factor in recent shootings by young men, including the attacks in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, reflecting “a problem that intersects with the distribution and the reinforcement of the rigid and hegemonic idea of toxic masculinity,” Professor Jensen said. This was not an issue several decades ago.
There have been a few mass shootings in the United States in which the shooter was over 60 years old.
In one of the largest, the 2017 shooting in Las Vegas that left 58 dead, the shooter, Stephen Paddock, was 64. A former postal worker and tax auditor, Mr. Paddock’s mental and physical health had been deteriorating in the months leading up to the shooting.
Jan. 22, 2023, 10:31 a.m. ET
Shashank Bengali and Erin Mendell
The list of U.S. mass shootings continues to grow.
See a list of mass shootings in the United States in 2023.
The mass shooting that left at least seven people dead in Half Moon Bay, Calif., on Tuesday was the second mass shooting in the state in three days.
A suspect is in custody and is cooperating with investigators, according to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office
There is no consensus on what constitutes a mass shooting, complicating the efforts of government, nonprofits and news organizations to document the scope of the problem. The Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit research group, defines a mass shooting as involving at least four people killed or injured.
By that measure, there have been at least 38 mass shootings so far in 2023, according to the group. It counted 648 mass shootings last year, 21 of which involved five or more fatalities.
Here is a partial list of recent mass shootings in the United States:
Jan. 21: Monterey Park, Calif.
At least 11 people were killed in Monterey Park, a small community east of Los Angeles, when a gunman opened fire at a ballroom frequented by Chinese American dancers. It was the deadliest mass shooting in the United States since the massacre in Uvalde, Texas, last May, when 19 children and two teachers were killed.
Jan. 16: Goshen, Calif.
Gunmen killed six people, including a 16-year-old and her 10-month-old child, in a shooting that the police said was probably gang-related.
Nov. 22: Chesapeake, Va.
A Walmart employee opened fire in a break room as the store was preparing to close for the night, killing six people, the authorities said. The gunman was found dead, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to the police.
Nov. 20: Colorado Springs
Five people were killed and 17 wounded by gunfire in a shooting at an L.G.B.T.Q. nightclub. The gunman was hurt and taken to a hospital.
Nov. 13: Charlottesville, Va.
Three University of Virginia students, all members of the football team, were killed and two were wounded when a gunman, a former player, opened fire in a garage after a field trip to see a play in Washington.
Oct. 13: Raleigh, N.C.
A gunman, described by the authorities only as a “white male juvenile,” killed five people, including an off-duty police officer, and wounded two others. The attacks drew a large response from law enforcement agencies to the residential area near the Neuse River Greenway, a popular bike trail for Raleigh residents.
Sept. 7: Memphis, Tenn.
Memphis was effectively closed down during an hourslong manhunt for a 19-year-old gunman who killed four people while streaming some of the violence on Facebook Live. The violence involved several shootings and carjackings over the course of the day.
July 4: Highland Park, Ill.
Seven people were killed and dozens more wounded when a gunman opened fire from the roof of a building in Highland Park, a suburb north of Chicago, during a Fourth of July parade. A 21-year-old was taken into custody several hours later.