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Half Moon Bay community gathers to honor lives lost a year ago in mass shooting

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A year after the Half Moon Bay mass shooting in California, where seven people were killed, the community gathered on Sunday night to honor the lives lost.

The vigil: Dozens of attendees gathered at the Boys and Girls Club along with Half Moon Bay Mayor Joaquin Jimenez, who led the remembrance ceremony. He read the names of the victims and emphasized the importance of farmworkers and their well-being.

“When we talk about healing completely, maybe never,” Jimenez told KTVU. “This is going to take time, but what we can do is we can change the way farmworkers live.”

At the event, local officials, including U.S. Representative Anna Eshoo, Senator Josh Becker and Assemblymember Marc Berman, also provided words of encouragement and called for continued efforts to improve living and working conditions.

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About the Half Moon Bay shooting: The shootings, which took place at two mushroom farms — California Terra Garden and Concord Farms — on Jan. 23, 2023, killed seven and injured one. The suspect, 66-year-old Chunli Zhao, previously admitted to the killings on Jan. 26, claiming that he was bullied by colleagues and forced to work long hours for years. However, he pleaded not guilty to all charges in February.

The shootings came after another mass shooting in Monterey Park, where 11 people were killed following a Lunar New Year celebration at a dance studio on Jan. 21.

President’s message: President Joe Biden also expressed his condolences for the victims of the shootings in both Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay, stating that he and Jill have prayed for the affected families.

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He highlighted executive actions and initiatives taken by his administration to address gun violence, including the creation of the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention and the implementation of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. However, Biden urged Congress to take further steps, including banning assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, ending immunity for gun manufacturers, passing a national red flag law, enforcing universal background checks and requiring safe storage of guns.

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Update on living conditions: The Half Moon Bay shooting exposed poor living conditions for farmworkers, revealing overcrowded and substandard conditions, prompting county officials to address the housing crisis. A task force was created to inspect farmworker housing voluntarily, with both state and county funds allocated for new housing projects. Advocates are pushing for housing away from farms to empower workers to speak up about conditions without fear of losing housing tied to employment. While progress has been made, there is still work to be done to address the broader issues in farmworker housing.

"There’s really not a lot to say except that the community still needs help, and we hope that all of us can come together to help more," noted Virginia Chang Kiraly, San Mateo County Harbor District commissioner.

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