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A gunman killed seven people in Half Moon Bay, Calif., Monday night

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Half Moon Bay, Calif. - add it to the long and growing list of places in the U.S. to suffer a mass shooting. Yesterday in the scenic coastal town, seven people were killed and one wounded in the attack at two farming nurseries. A 66-year-old man is in custody. Marisa Lagos, correspondent with member station KQED, is in Half Moon Bay and joins me. And, Marisa, I have seen these shootings described as a workplace dispute. What do we know?

MARISA LAGOS, BYLINE: Yeah. It sounds like the suspect did work, at one point, at both farms. It seems like the first one he targeted, this mushroom farm on the highway leading into Half Moon Bay, was his current employer. We know eight people were shot in total. Seven are dead. One underwent surgery. And he did go to both locations and carry out these shootings.

KELLY: OK. So we know he worked at both these farms. I mentioned he's 66. What else do we know? They have identified him.

LAGOS: That's right. His name is Chunli Zhao. He is 66. He did surrender to police after driving himself to a police substation - a sheriff's substation. After he surrendered peacefully, they did find a semiautomatic handgun in the car. Police say he did legally purchase that weapon. They also said there's no prior indication he'd do something like this, that there had been no threats to the - you know, that they knew about. And it does sound like he's cooperating with investigators today.

KELLY: So no red flags in his background that we know of. OK. What do we know about the eight people who were shot?

LAGOS: Not a lot so far. Between the sheriff's office and talking to the vice mayor here in Half Moon Bay, it does sound like all of them were farm workers, all adults. They were both of Asian and Hispanic descent. And the sheriff said one tough thing here is that a lot of them are migrants. And so finding - locating relatives next of kin is proving a bit challenging. But it does sound like, you know, all these folks knew each other. There was actually housing on site at that mushroom farm. So some of them live there. And it is believed that there were some children, some teenagers and very young children at least at the farm when the shooting took place.

KELLY: Half Moon Bay - I mentioned you are there. It's this beautiful, rural, coastal community. Have you been able to talk to people? How are they reacting?

LAGOS: Yeah, it's pretty devastating. As you said, this is about half an hour south of San Francisco, a lot of farmland, you know, well-known for sort of surfing and boating culture. People know each other here pretty well. And they've also been devastated by the recent storms that have swept through California. A lot of the farm workers were actually, you know, victims of flooding and were trying to get help through that. Longtime district attorney Steve Wagstaffe had this to say this morning at the news conference.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

STEVE WAGSTAFFE: Cases like this - we've never had one in this county of this many deaths at one scene or one time. So it's a very hectic scene.

LAGOS: And, you know, as I said, Wagstaffe has been DA here for a very long time. He praised sheriff's deputies for their response. But I think it really does speak to just how hard this is hitting this coastal community.

KELLY: Marisa Lagos, thank you.

LAGOS: It's my pleasure, Mary Louise.

KELLY: That's Marisa Lagos of member station KQED updating us on the scene there in Half Moon Bay, Calif., where, again, yesterday seven people were killed and one wounded in an attack at two farms. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Marisa Lagos
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