The man accused of carrying out back-to-back mass shootings on two mushroom farms in Half Moon Bay, California, has confessed to the murders, saying he endured years of bullying at both workplaces.
Chunli Zhao, 66, made the confession in a 15-minute jailhouse interview Thursday with NBC Bay Area’s Janelle Wang. He is being held without bail on seven counts of murder and one count of attempted murder — both with firearm use enhancements — as well as a “special circumstance allegation of multiple murder.”
Speaking in Mandarin, Zhao told Wang that he had been bullied by colleagues and forced to work long hours for years.
When he voiced his complaints to management, he was allegedly ignored.
Zhao believes he may be suffering from mental illness and was not in his right mind when he opened fire on Monday.
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He reportedly expressed regret for the killings and said he wants to be evaluated by doctors.
Erlin Ortiz, who works with her sister Miriam at one of the farms, said Zhao was “super red and very angry” when he shot his first victims. Then, as he saw the sisters starting to drive away, his demeanor changed.
“He was laughing, he was smiling. We saw him get on the forklift, and when he turned to see us, he was making fun of the situation,” Ortiz told CBS SF Bay Area.
Zhao told Wang that he has a green card and has been in the U.S. for 11 years.
He also recalled purchasing the murder weapon in 2021, adding that he had no problem buying it.
The shootings are being treated as a case of workplace violence. State officials have begun investigations into the farms’ labor practices.
Gov. Gavin Newsom, who spoke to the victims’ families Tuesday, learned that some of the laborers were “living in shipping containers” and working for $9 an hour — well below California’s minimum wage of $15.50, as per the Los Angeles Times.
“No healthcare, no support, no services, but [they’re] taking care of our health, providing a service to us each and every day,” Newsom told reporters.