UNITED STATES NEWS

Grand jury indicts farmworker charged in Northern California mass shootings

Jan 23, 2024, 5:20 PM

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A farmworker charged with killing seven people last year in back-to-back shootings at two Northern California mushroom farms was indicted by a grand jury in an effort by prosecutors to move the case along, authorities said.

Chunli Zhao was in court Tuesday to be arraigned on seven counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder, but his arraignment was continued until Feb. 29, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said in an email.

Zhao was charged in the Jan. 23, 2023, killings of seven people in Half Moon Bay. He pleaded not guilty last February. But the case has dragged on with a preliminary hearing not set until March, and that has now been vacated, Wagstaffe said.

The grand jury indictment supersedes the criminal complaint and bypasses the need for a preliminary hearing, skipping one step in the legal process and advancing the case, he said.

“I know that extensive delays impose a very negative impact on victims’ families and we try to move cases along when the case seems to be dragging on. That is why we sought to seek the Grand Jury Indictment,” Wagstaffe said.

The next step is for Zhao to enter a plea on the grand jury indictment charges at the February hearing, he said.

Prosecutors say Zhao began the shooting rampage at California Terra Garden, located 2 miles (1.5 kilometers) after his supervisor there demanded he pay a $100 repair bill for his forklift after he was involved in a crash with a co-worker’s bulldozer. They say he killed four co-workers and wounded another one before driving to Concord Farms, a mushroom farm he was fired from in 2015. There, he shot to death three former co-workers.

Zhao admitted to the shootings during a jailhouse media interview days after the killings and told KNTV-TV he was bullied and worked long hours on the farms.

The killings shed light on the substandard housing the farms provided to their workers. After the shooting, San Mateo County Supervisor Ray Mueller visited the housing at California Terra Garden, where some of its workers lived along with their families, and he described it as “deplorable” and “heartbreaking.”

Muller, who represents Half Moon Bay and other agricultural towns, posted photos on social media showing a shipping container and sheds used as homes.

Terra Garden’s owners agreed to build new permanent homes on a separate area of the farm for its employees and their families and provide them affordable housing during the year it would take to construct them. But a year after the shooting, permanent housing has not yet been built, the Mercury News reported.

United States News

Associated Press

Pursuit of Milwaukee carjacking suspects ends with police shooting 2 teens in stolen vehicle

MILWAUKEE (AP) — A police pursuit of carjacking suspects in Milwaukee ended Thursday with police firing into the vehicle and injuring two teens, one of whom was pregnant and lost her baby, Milwaukee police said. Officers tried to stop the stolen vehicle just before 2:30 p.m. on Interstate 43 north of Milwaukee. The pursuit ended […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

2 crop dusting airplanes collided in southern Idaho, killing 1 pilot and severely injuring the other

ARCO, Idaho (AP) — Two crop dusting airplanes collided near an airport in southern Idaho on Thursday and crashed to the ground, killing one of the pilots and leaving the other with life-threatening injuries, officials said. The crash was reported at about 12:30 p.m. in an area covered by sage and grass near the airport […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Seattle police officer fired for off-duty racist comments

SEATTLE (AP) — A Seattle police officer was fired for calling his Chinese American neighbor racist and sexist slurs while off duty in 2022, according to a news report. Officer Burton Hill was fired in May, The Seattle Times reported. The termination stemmed from an altercation with his neighbor, Zhen Jin, over the disposal of […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Appeals court panel refuses to delay Trump ally Steve Bannon’s 4-month contempt prison sentence

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal appeals court panel on Thursday rejected longtime Donald Trump ally Steve Bannon’s bid to stay out of prison while he fights his conviction for defying a subpoena from the House committee that investigated the U.S. Capitol attack. Bannon is supposed to report to prison by July 1 to begin serving […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

2 killed in helicopter crash in Washington state, authorities say

BLUESTEM, Wash. (AP) — Two men died in a helicopter crash in eastern Washington state, authorities said. Lincoln County Fire District 6 Chief Brandon Larmer told KREM-TV that the helicopter had two people aboard when it crashed Wednesday afternoon. The men who died were identified Thursday as 68-year-old Ryan Sandvig, of Spokane, and 63-year-old Mark […]

8 hours ago

Associated Press

Gold bars and Sen. Bob Menendez’s curiosity about their price takes central role at bribery trial

NEW YORK (AP) — Prosecutors showed jurors at Sen. Bob Menendez ’s trial on Thursday multiple instances when he researched the value of gold as he tried to help a New Jersey businessman who authorities say bribed him with gold and cash. The evidence about the Democrat’s online searches was prominently displayed to a New […]

8 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s how to be worry-free when your A/C goes out in the middle of summer

PHOENIX -- As Arizona approaches another hot summer, Phoenix residents are likely to spend more time indoors.

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

Grand jury indicts farmworker charged in Northern California mass shootings