Half Moon Bay farm involved in mass shooting had history of violence

4 mins read

One of the two Half Moon Bay farms involved in Monday’s mass shooting has a history of violence between workers. 

Six months before Monday’s incident, another shooting happened at California Terra Gardens. According to the District Attorney’s Office, Martina Medina, 49, one of the farm’s managers, is in jail with a $5 million bail and facing attempted murder charges. 

Then on Monday, seven Hispanic and Asian farmworkers were shot by their 66-year-old co-worker Chunli Zhao. According to Sheriff Christina Corpus, the incident is a case of “workplace violence.” 

Prosecutors said Zhao was “angry at several co-workers over perceived mistreatment.”

Zhao shot five people at California Terra Gardens, formerly known as Mountain Mushroom Farm, before driving to Concord Farms and murdering three more farm workers. 

Prosecutors said only one victim survived. 

California Terra Gardens confirmed that Zhaon was one of its employees. 

Zhao made his first court appearance Wednesday. He is facing seven counts of premeditated murder and one count of attempted murder. He did not enter a plea, and a judge denied granting bail. 

Santa Clary County court records revealed that Zhao allegedly made death threats against his former boss in San Jose a decade ago. 

“Mr. Zhao said to me, ‘Today I am going to kill you.’ He then took a pillow and started to cover my face and suffocate me,” his ex-boss wrote in a restraining order. According to the restraining order, Zhao threatened to kill his ex-boss if he didn’t give his job back and pay him for past paychecks.

David Oates, a spokesperson for California Terra Garden, told KRON4 that Monday’s violence was “shocking” and “no previous concerns about Zhao were raised to management.”

California Terra Garden wrote in a statement, “We remain shocked and grief-stricken over the senseless loss of four of our friends and long-time employees. As we fully cooperate with law enforcement in their investigation, we are marshaling resources to care for the loved ones of our team members who passed away from this horrific tragedy. Our staff, who tirelessly work to grow the finest agricultural food products, are like family to us. We will rally together to begin the long healing process. We make this solemn promise to them.”

The Half Moon Bay mass shootings have shed light on the community of immigrant farm workers and their deplorable living conditions on the farm. 

At a press conference Tuesday, Vice Mayor Joaquin Jiménez said, “Many of you come to the community for the pumpkins and ignore the farmworkers. Not today. We’re not going to ignore anybody. We’re going to support each other.”

“Viewed the crime scenes today in Half Moon Bay. Deplorable, heartbreaking living conditions. We must raise the quality of life of farm workers, now,” Mueller wrote on Thursday. “One room dwellings. No insulation. No running water. I spoke with one farmworker today who said she slept with flood waters from the storms on the floor in her unit.”

A sheriff’s coroner identified the murder victims as:

  • Zhishen Liu, 73, of San Francisco
  • Qizhong Cheng, 66, of Half Moon Bay
  • Marciano Martinez Jimenez, 50, of Moss Beach
  • Yetao Bing, 43, residence unknown
  • Aixiang Zhang, 74, of San Francisco
  • Jingzhi Lu, 64, of Half Moon Bay

The seventh murder victim was identified in court records as Jose Romero Perez. His brother was also shot and is currently recovering in a trauma center.


Charlene is a Bay Area journalist who hails from the small community of Fresno. Drawing from her experience writing for her college paper, Charlene continues to advocate for free press and local journalism. She also volunteers in all the beach cleanups she can because she loves the water.