What to know about the shootings in Half Moon Bay. (2023)

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What to know about the shootings in Half Moon Bay. (1)

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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What to know about the shootings in Half Moon Bay. (2)

Jan. 24, 2023, 2:26 a.m. ET

Jan. 24, 2023, 2:26 a.m. ET

Holly Secon

Half Moon Bay is a small seaside town in flux.

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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.

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Locations of the Shootings

What to know about the shootings in Half Moon Bay. (3)

Jan. 24, 2023, 1:02 a.m. ET

Jan. 24, 2023, 1:02 a.m. ET

Holly Secon

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.

What to know about the shootings in Half Moon Bay. (4)

Jan. 24, 2023, 12:50 a.m. ET

Jan. 24, 2023, 12:50 a.m. ET

Holly Secon

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.

What to know about the shootings in Half Moon Bay. (5)

Jan. 24, 2023, 1:28 a.m. ET

Jan. 24, 2023, 1:28 a.m. ET

Holly Secon

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

Jan. 23, 2023, 11:45 p.m. ET

Jin Yu Young

California grapples with a mounting toll of gun violence.

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In the past 72 hours, California has been racked by back-to-back mass shootings, leaving at least 18 people dead, along with one of the suspected gunmen.

But the horror of the attacks was not limited to the toll, or the speed with which one unfurled after the other.

Californians were struggling to grapple with the specifics and the timing of the shootings. The suspects in both attacks were older Asian men, whose age and ethnicity have been rare in mass shootings. And the victims were Asian and Asian American, many who were still celebrating the Lunar New Year.

The first attack — on Saturday night in Monterey Park — caused the deaths of 11 people and injured at least nine at a once joyous dance hall. The suspect, a 72-year-old named Huu Can Tran, was a former volunteer dance instructor there.

Many of the victims were members of the Asian and Asian American community in their 50s and 60s. They had gone to Star Ballroom Dance Studio to celebrate the holidays with a night of music and dancing. Until the gunshots rang out. Alongside the 11 who died, eight people were wounded.

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Just 30 minutes later, the suspect went to a second location, Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio, in Alhambra, Calif, where he was wrestled to the ground and disarmed by Brandon Tsay, the third-generation operator of the family-run dance hall, before escaping and running away.

The police found the suspect dead in a van, with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, on Sunday afternoon, in Torrance, around 30 miles away.

Investigators are still looking into his motive, but are following a theory that he was driven by personal grievances and was “looking out for specific people for a specific reason.”

Details were still emerging of Monday’s shooting — in San Mateo County, Calif. — but this much was clear: Seven people were dead in attacks at two agricultural locations where many migrant workers toil, and one person was in the hospital. Children witnessed at least some of the bloodshed.

The suspect, Zhao Chunli, 67, was a resident of the area, Half-Moon Bay. He was found in his car in the parking lot of a sheriff’s office substation and taken into custody.

The shooting was first reported around 2:20 p.m. at two separate locations near Highway 92 in the city of Half Moon Bay. Upon arrival at the first scene, responders saw four bodies with gunshot wounds, and one person with life-threatening injuries.

Sheriff Christina Corpus of San Mateo County said in a news conference on Monday night that the suspect had acted alone, and that they had so far not determined his motive.

The two attacks were not the only mass shootings California has suffered recently. Little more than a week earlier, six people were shot dead in Tulare County, in Central California. Those victims included a 16-year-old and her 10-month-old baby.

“What a tragedy to see these innocent people lose their lives,” said Sheriff Christina Corpus on Monday’s evening.

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What to know about the shootings in Half Moon Bay. (7)

Jan. 23, 2023, 11:45 p.m. ET

Jan. 23, 2023, 11:45 p.m. ET

April Rubin

“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.”

What to know about the shootings in Half Moon Bay. (8)

Jan. 23, 2023, 11:39 p.m. ET

Jan. 23, 2023, 11:39 p.m. ET

Jesus Jimenez

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.”

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.

— Senator Scott Wiener (@Scott_Wiener) January 24, 2023

What to know about the shootings in Half Moon Bay. (9)

Jan. 23, 2023, 11:03 p.m. ET

Jan. 23, 2023, 11:03 p.m. ET

Holly Secon

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.

What to know about the shootings in Half Moon Bay. (10)

Jan. 23, 2023, 10:54 p.m. ET

Jan. 23, 2023, 10:54 p.m. ET

John Yoon

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

What to know about the shootings in Half Moon Bay. (11)

Jan. 23, 2023, 10:39 p.m. ET

Jan. 23, 2023, 10:39 p.m. ET

Holly Secon

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.

What to know about the shootings in Half Moon Bay. (12)

Jan. 23, 2023, 10:27 p.m. ET

Jan. 23, 2023, 10:27 p.m. ET

Andrea Kannapell

“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

What to know about the shootings in Half Moon Bay. (13)

Jan. 23, 2023, 10:25 p.m. ET

Jan. 23, 2023, 10:25 p.m. ET

Holly Secon

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.”

What to know about the shootings in Half Moon Bay. (14)

Jan. 23, 2023, 10:25 p.m. ET

Jan. 23, 2023, 10:25 p.m. ET

Andrea Kannapell

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.”

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.

— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) January 24, 2023

What to know about the shootings in Half Moon Bay. (15)

Jan. 23, 2023, 10:22 p.m. ET

Jan. 23, 2023, 10:22 p.m. ET

Chevaz Clarke

This is the moment the suspected gunman was taken into custody by the police.

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What to know about the shootings in Half Moon Bay. (16)

What to know about the shootings in Half Moon Bay. (17)

Jan. 23, 2023, 10:17 p.m. ET

Jan. 23, 2023, 10:17 p.m. ET

Jin Yu Young

Investigators believe that the gunman had one semi-automatic weapon.

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What to know about the shootings in Half Moon Bay. (18)

Jan. 23, 2023, 10:15 p.m. ET

Jan. 23, 2023, 10:15 p.m. ET

John Yoon

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.”

What to know about the shootings in Half Moon Bay. (19)

Jan. 23, 2023, 10:11 p.m. ET

Jan. 23, 2023, 10:11 p.m. ET

John Yoon

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.

What to know about the shootings in Half Moon Bay. (20)

Jan. 23, 2023, 10:10 p.m. ET

Jan. 23, 2023, 10:10 p.m. ET

April Rubin

Zhao Chunli, the suspect, was fully cooperating with the authorities, Sheriff Christina Corpus said.

What to know about the shootings in Half Moon Bay. (21)

Jan. 23, 2023, 10:09 p.m. ET

Jan. 23, 2023, 10:09 p.m. ET

April Rubin

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.

What to know about the shootings in Half Moon Bay. (22)

Jan. 23, 2023, 10:05 p.m. ET

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.

Image

What to know about the shootings in Half Moon Bay. (23)

Jan. 23, 2023, 10:04 p.m. ET

Jan. 23, 2023, 10:04 p.m. ET

John Yoon

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.”

What to know about the shootings in Half Moon Bay. (24)

Jan. 23, 2023, 10:02 p.m. ET

Jan. 23, 2023, 10:02 p.m. ET

John Yoon

Sheriff Christina Corpus said that the suspect is believed to be a worker at an agricultural nursery where one of the attacks occurred.

What to know about the shootings in Half Moon Bay. (25)

Jan. 23, 2023, 10:00 p.m. ET

Jan. 23, 2023, 10:00 p.m. ET

Jin Yu Young

Several children were present at the scene of the shootings, according to officials.

What to know about the shootings in Half Moon Bay. (26)

Jan. 23, 2023, 9:56 p.m. ET

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.

What to know about the shootings in Half Moon Bay. (27)

Jan. 23, 2023, 9:55 p.m. ET

Jan. 23, 2023, 9:55 p.m. ET

Holly Secon

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.

What to know about the shootings in Half Moon Bay. (28)

Jan. 23, 2023, 9:54 p.m. ET

Jan. 23, 2023, 9:54 p.m. ET

Sean Plambeck

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.

Video

What to know about the shootings in Half Moon Bay. (29)

What to know about the shootings in Half Moon Bay. (30)

Jan. 23, 2023, 9:53 p.m. ET

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.

Video

What to know about the shootings in Half Moon Bay. (31)

What to know about the shootings in Half Moon Bay. (32)

Jan. 23, 2023, 9:51 p.m. ET

Jan. 23, 2023, 9:51 p.m. ET

John Yoon

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.

What to know about the shootings in Half Moon Bay. (33)

Jan. 23, 2023, 9:51 p.m. ET

Jan. 23, 2023, 9:51 p.m. ET

April Rubin

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

Jan. 23, 2023, 7:44 a.m. ET

Jin Yu Young

The suspects’ ages stand out among mass shooters.

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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.

What to know about the shootings in Half Moon Bay. (35)

Jan. 22, 2023, 10:31 a.m. ET

Jan. 22, 2023, 10:31 a.m. ET

Shashank Bengali and Erin Mendell

The list of U.S. mass shootings continues to grow.

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  • 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.

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