Half Moon Bay farm workers handle shooting as work resumes

HALF MOON BAY, Calif. (AP) — Workers began picking mushrooms on a farm in Northern California just a week after a colleague was shot dead. They say there are practical and emotional reasons for such a quick comeback. there is.

“I feel that we all need each other. We feel that the people on the farm really understand you now,” said a farm worker at Half Moon Bay whose name is He said he asked not to be used.

She and two other workers spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they are traumatized and do not want the attention they deserve if their names are made public.

A woman recently started working at Concord Farms. 7 people were shot January 23, by a man who authorities said was a disgruntled worker. The woman recalled building a kinship across language barriers by nicknamed two of her older Chinese colleagues Her abuela and Her abuelo, the Spanish words for her grandmother and grandfather. I was.

Aixiang Zhang, 74, and Zhishen Liu, 73, were two of the three people killed at Concord Farm along with farmer Marciano Martinez Jimenez. Workers said the couple lived on the farm.

The young woman wondered why they were doing so much hard work at their age. The woman speaks Spanish and the couple speaks Mandarin, so she struggled to communicate through language, but she said they felt like one big family as they got to know each other through pointing, sign language and laughter. She credits me for helping me learn the tricks of harvesting mushrooms through phone gestures and translation apps.

The woman was away from the farm’s greenhouse when the shooting occurred, but soon returned and found her lying on the ground.

According to prosecutors, the suspect in the case, Cho Chun-Li, started the shooting at Terra Gardens in California, two miles (1.5 km) from Concord Farms, after a supervisor demanded payment of a fine. $100 repair bill for his forklift after he was involved in a collision with a colleague’s bulldozer.

They say Zhao caught up with his boss talking to a colleague who was operating the bulldozer and shot and killed the two. He then shot his boss’s wife, another colleague, and that colleague’s brother.

Among those killed were Cheng Qizhong, Yetao Bing, Jingzhi Lu and Jose Romero Perez.

Zhao then drove to Concord Farms, where he worked until 2015, where he began shooting, officials said.

Zhao, 66, has been charged with seven counts of murder and one count of attempted murder. He is scheduled to be arraigned on February 16th. Zhao’s attorney, Eric Hove, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on Friday.

Half Moon Bay is a small coastal area in San Mateo County about 30 miles south of San Francisco, with rolling hills dotted with farms and beaches that draw crowds on weekends. Most of the farm workers in the area are Latino, and the two mushroom farms are he one of the few farms employing Chinese workers.

According to Concord Farms workers, Zhao worked there for about four years before being laid off eight years ago. The farm’s owner, Aaron Tung, did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment on Friday.

The young woman said the murdered Chinese couple would often give them eggs, chicken, or vegetables to take home.

“Grandma and Grandpa have been very patient with me. They will teach me,” said the young woman. Her eyes were filled with tears. “They always helped me and were very kind.”

She said that before tragedy struck her small farm, which employs about 15 workers, the atmosphere at work was very cohesive and felt like family. Workers like working there, she said, because the owner gives them the flexibility to leave during working hours if needed.

“It was a really fun place,” she said.

Workers who spoke to the Associated Press said they have been working two to three hours a day since Tuesday picking, washing, weighing and packing mushrooms because they need money to pay rent. He said he had received offers of some financial and psychological support from farm worker advocacy groups.

Another farm worker who told the Associated Press felt sick on the day of the shooting and had not witnessed it. He said he feared he might return to the farm.

“I try to forget what happened, but I always seem to have this fear,” he said.

The killings occurred shortly after San Mateo County was hit by torrential rains, leaving farm workers without jobs for days, living in crowded conditions and earning only enough to pay their bills and rent. made life worse for

A third farm worker who spoke to the AP said he and his wife had witnessed the shooting and were seeking treatment.

“It’s not easy being out there,” he said of the farm.

This man has been working on a farm in Half Moon Bay for the last ten years and describes the hardships he and others face at the demanding jobs with a salary barely covering their living expenses.

He said he earns $16 an hour, pays $1,300 for rooms for himself, his wife and two children, and lives in a four-bedroom house he shares with eight others.

“We work so others can eat when there are times when we don’t eat and we have to struggle to get the job done,” he said.

Last week, San Mateo County Supervisor Ray Mueller visited a home in Terra Gardens, California. Some of the workers there lived with their families, which they described as “deplorable” and “heartbreaking”. Mr. Mueller, representing Half Moon his bay and other agricultural cities, Post a photo on Twitter It shows a shipping container and a shed used as a home.

California Terra Garden spokesperson David Oates said Friday that employees there will be able to return to work on Monday and receive grief counseling.

“They have access as long as they need it,” he said, adding that they’ll also receive payments for the last week when the farm wasn’t operating.

Farm owners agreed to build new permanent homes for employees and their families elsewhere on the farm and provide affordable housing within the year it would take to build, Oates said. said.

Officials have said nothing about whether the Concord Farm housing was as stipulated.

Belinda Hernandez, founder and executive director of the agricultural workers advocacy group ALAS, said she hopes the authorities will now take the plight of agricultural workers seriously and make changes.

“We’ve been talking to a lot of people about this for a long time, and we don’t need a tragedy for people to stand up and listen,” she said.


Associated Press writer Janie Herr contributed from San Francisco.

https://www.ksby.com/news/california-news/half-moon-bay-farmworkers-processing-shooting-as-jobs-resume Half Moon Bay farm workers handle shooting as work resumes

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