The man accused of killing seven people at two California mushroom farms last week reportedly said he was triggered by a $100 repair bill over equipment damaged at work.
Farmworker Chunli Zhao, 66, who faces seven counts of murder and one count of attempted murder, felt bullied and had a long-standing dispute with co-workers, said San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe on Friday, according to KTVU-TV.
“It wasn’t anything other than through the work and what was going on at work and he felt picked on,” Wagstaffe said.
Wagstaffe said Zhao, who is being held at the county jail without bond, was enraged by the equipment bill, saying a co-worker was to blame for the collision between his forklift and the co-worker’s bulldozer. Multiple media outlets reported Zhao vented to his supervisor about the bill, but the supervisor insisted he had to pay. Zhao then allegedly shot the supervisor and the co-worker, going to a trailer where he killed the co-worker’s wife, and then killed an employee and wounded another.
He then went to nearby Concord Farms, where he previously worked, and allegedly shot and killed three former co-workers.
“This is not a case that involves what happened,” Wagstaffe told KTVU-TV. “We know what happened. The case will involve what exactly was in his mind, what was justified, not justified. We feel none of the conduct was justified, but we have a lot to learn.”
KNTV-TV reported Thursday that Zhao, in a jailhouse interview with its reporter Janelle Wang in Mandarin, admitted he committed the shootings and feels remorse. He said he endured years of bullying combined with long hours working on the farms, and those issues were never addressed. He also said he believes he has a mental illness and wasn’t in his right mind the day of the shootings.
KNTV-TV reported Zhao, a Chinese citizen, said he has been in the U.S. for 11 years and has a green card. He said he bought the gun used in the killings in 2021 and didn’t run into any obstacles when making the purchase.
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