HALF MOON BAY, UNITED STATES (AFP) – An Asian farm worker was in custody on Monday after seven of his colleagues were killed in front of children at sites in California, days after a mass shooter killed 11 people at a Lunar New Year celebration near Los Angeles (LA).
The latest bloodshed to hit Asian Americans in California occurred at two farms around Half Moon Bay, a coastal community near San Francisco. San Mateo County Sheriff Christina Corpus said seven people were killed and one injured in the twin shootings, and that a Half Moon Bay resident named Chunli Zhao, 67, had been taken into custody.
As the new tragedy unfolded, detectives at the southern end of the state were still probing what drove an elderly Asian immigrant to shoot dead 11 people gathered in celebration at a suburban dance hall before taking his own life as police closed in.
Both suspects used semiautomatic handguns in their assault and both appeared to have connections to at least some of their victims.
Corpus said deputies had been dispatched to two nurseries around Half Moon Bay, a rural spot south of San Francisco, mid-afternoon on Monday. Four people were dead at one of them and one critically wounded. “Shortly thereafter three additional victims were also located deceased with gunshot wounds at a separate shooting scene,” she told reporters.
“There’s people that live at the location as well… it was in the afternoon when kids were out of school and for children to witnesses it is unspeakable,” she said.
Corpus said Zhou then drove to a sheriff’s substation in Half Moon Bay where ABC7 crews captured dramatic footage of his arrest as he was pulled to the ground by armed officers. “Zhao was taken into custody without incident and a semi-automatic handgun was located in his vehicle,” Corpus said.
Reports said the dead are Chinese farmworkers and that Zhao had worked at one of the farms.
News of the fresh carnage came as detectives just a few hundred kilometres away in Monterey Park were trying to piece together why Huu Can Tran gunned down revellers gathered at a dance studio for Lunar New Year on Saturday night.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said on Monday that Tran, who had been arrested in 1994 for unlawful possession of a firearm, fired 42 rounds in the attack. But, he said, much was still unknown. “What drove a madman to do this? We don’t know. But we intend to find out,” he told reporters.
Luna confirmed officers had been told Tran may have been known to some of his victims, but said there was currently no evidence he was related to any.
News of a second mass shooting in California in less than 48 hours spread ripples of shock through the state, which already has some of the strictest firearm laws in the United States. An exasperated Governor Gavin Newsom, who had earlier on Monday been in Monterey Park where he lashed out at federal inaction over guns, called it another “tragedy”.