California Half Moon Bay suspect charged with murder

STORY: An immigrant farm worker accused of shooting and killing seven of his co-workers this week was formally charged with pre-meditated murder on Wednesday.

Chunli Zhao stood behind glass, handcuffed and in a red jumpsuit, as he was formally presented with the charges during his first court appearance in Redwood City.

The 66-year-old did not enter a plea and was ordered held without bond.

Zhao is the lone suspect in Monday's massacre at two mushroom farms in the seaside town of Half Moon Bay.

It was the state's second deadly gun rampage in as many days, with the incidents claiming a combined total of 18 lives.

Outside the courthouse, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said Zhao posed a flight risk:

“This is the highest number of charges of seven counts of murder. We have not had in San Mateo County before a case with one instance of seven murders at once. He is not a citizen of this country. There's plenty of motive to run. For that reason, it was, to me a very straightforward and simple request for no bail.”

The prosecutor said Zhao was a Chinese citizen who has resided in the U.S. for at least 10 years.

The precise motive of the attack is still unknown, but Wagstaffe said it was not inspired by the attack that happened in Monterey Park two days earlier.

“The question was whether this is any evidence of copycat of Monterey Park. And we believe the answer is no to that, not just simply 'we're not sure.' We believe the answer is no.”

Authorities said early evidence indicated the bloodshed stemmed from a workplace grievance.

Zhao had been employed by one of the growers, Mountain Mushroom Farm, and had resided at the property along with some of his co-workers.

The second crime scene, Concord Farms, is about a mile away.

The next court proceeding in the case was set for Feb. 16.