The California farmworker charged with killing seven current and former coworkers in a mass shooting Monday admitted the killings in a jailhouse interview Thursday, saying he had been bullied at work and his complaints were ignored. Chunli Zhao, speaking in Mandarin, told Janelle Wang from NBC Bay Area that he had worked long hours and been bullied for years at the two mushroom farms he targeted Monday. He expressed remorse for the killings, saying he believes he suffers from a mental illness. Zhao said he has a green card and has lived in the US for 11 years. He said he lives with his wife in Half Moon Bay and has a 40-year-old daughter who lives in China.
David Oates, a spokesman for California Terra Garden, formerly Mountain Mushroom Farm, said Zhao and his wife lived on the farm. Oates said the farm has "no knowledge of any complaints by anyone on allegations of bullying," the AP reports. Oates said Zhao was not involved in a previous shooting at the farm last July. According to court records, California Terra Garden manager Martin Medina was charged with attempted murder after he threatened to kill another manager and shot at his trailer. Nobody was injured. On Monday, just hours before the mass shooting a judge ordered Medina, 49, to stand trial, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Mateo County Executive Officer Mike Callagy and Supervisor Ray Mueller visited both farms on Thursday and said they were shocked by the conditions. Mueller said workers' housing at California Terra Garden was "deplorable," with workers living in uninsulated one-room sheds or shipping containers with no running water. A spokeswoman for California's Department of Industrial Relations said Thursday that the labor department is looking into numerous possible violations at the two farms. (Researchers say it is "rare on top of rare" to have two mass shootings carried out by elderly Asian men in the space of three days.)