Farm worker in court to face seven murder charges after California massacre

A farm worker has appeared in court charged with seven counts of murder after a mass shooting in the US. Chunli Zhao, 66, was scheduled for arraignment today but this was postponed until February 16 during a brief hearing.

Zhao, who appeared in the dock wearing handcuffs and a red jumpsuit, is yet to enter a plea.

He is the lone suspect in Monday’s massacre at two mushroom farms in the California coastal town of Half Moon Bay.

Zhao is accused of shooting dead five men and two women in what police have described as a “workplace violence incident”.

He is also charged with one count of attempted murder.

The suspect was held without bond during the hearing at San Mateo County Superior Court in nearby Redwood City, California.

It was California’s third mass shooting in eight days and followed the killing of 11 in the Los Angeles area amid Lunar New Year celebrations on Saturday.

Authorities believe Zhao acted alone Monday when he entered a mushroom farm where he worked in Half Moon Bay before allegedly shooting and killing four people.

He then drove to a nearby farm where he worked previously and killed three more people, said Eamonn Allen, a sheriff’s spokesperson.

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The charges include additional allegations that could result in the death penalty or life in prison without parole, though California Governor Gavin Newsom has issued a moratorium on executions.

The coroner’s office named six of the victims: Zhishen Liu, 73, of San Francisco; Marciano Martinez Jimenez, 50, of Moss Beach, California; Aixiang Zhang, 74, of San Francisco; Qizhong Cheng, 66, of Half Moon Bay; Jingzhi Lu, 64, of Half Moon Bay; and Yetao Bing, 43, whose hometown was unknown.

The charging documents identify Jose Romero Perez as the other person killed and Pedro Romero Perez as the eighth victim, who survived the shooting.

Officials have said among those killed were migrant workers.

Some people were shot in trailers on the property, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.