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Half Moon Bay farm workers impacted by shooting get support from state leaders

Gov. Gavin Newsom said the Half Moon Bay mass shooting that left 7 dead will be an added stress to farm workers in the community already struggling.

HALF MOON BAY, Calif. — Less than two days after a shooting in Monterey Park left 11 dead, the small coastal community of Half Moon Bay suffered its own mass shooting where seven died— all of whom were gunned down on farms.

According to the San Mateo Sheriff's Office, 66-year-old Chunli Zhao opened fire on a Half Moon Bay mushroom farm and killed four people. One person was left seriously wounded.

He then drove to another nearby farm where he used to work and killed another three people. By the end, five men and two women were dead.

But dealing with the fallout from the Half Moon Bay shooting will be hard for members of the farming community already struggling with money and housing.

Officials highlight plight of farm workers

Half Moon Bay Vice Mayor Joaquin Jimenez said farm workers in the area have faced the obstacles of COVID-19, and bearing through the recent storms—now they need support getting through the recent shooting.

The mushroom farm where four people died employed about 20 to 30 Chinese and Latino workers.

But now all the farm workers have the spotlight for a moment, said Jimenez, who is also the farmworker program director for Latino community advocacy group ALAS.

"Now what we have is being exposed, our farm working community's living conditions," he said. "Many of you come to our community for the pumpkins and ignore the farm workers—not today. We're not ignoring anybody."

Jimenez also said the farm workers need mental health support to help recover from the deadly shooting.

The translators for Chinese immigrants at the farms said the workers they spoke with thought the shooting was just an act, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Many of these farm workers are paid below the California minimum wage, Newsom said, and live in housing conditions that include using a shipping container as a home,

"This whole thing is just a stacking of issues that come to the fore, but the one common denominator are these damn guns," Newsom said. "I met a man on life support—this morning, I find out he passed away."

He met with another shooting victim who was a farmer and said they wanted to know when they could get out of the hospital.

The farmer wasn't concerned about his shattered leg injury, but rather the income he's losing from missing days of work. Also worried about medical bills, Newsom said his treatment would be taken care of.

"I see the city administrator here (and) two remarkable supervisors. They've been writing checks directly to some of the folks that were impacted. I say we have your back," Newsom said.

WATCH MORE: Half Moon Bay shooting coverage | Gov. Newsom highlights farm workers' plight

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