Suspected Half Moon Bay shooter threatened to kill former co-worker, court docs reveal

The gunman who allegedly carried out a mass shooting in a Half Moon Bay farming community on Monday leaving seven people dead, was accused in 2013 of threatening to kill a former co-worker and trying to suffocate the man with a pillow, according to court documents.

The ex co-worker, who KTVU is not naming, filed a temporary restraining order in Santa Clara County Superior Court in 2013 against Chunli Zhao, alleging that Zhao threatened to split his head open with a knife if he didn't help him get his job back.

The man accused Zhao, who was also his roommate at the time, of entering his room unannounced and locking the door before trying to suffocate him with a pillow.

The ex-coworker and former roommate said Zhao threatened to make his life difficult at home and work and feared that Zhao might be dangerous.

According to court documents, the two worked at a restaurant in San Jose together, but Zhao quit.

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A former co-worker of the alleged Half Moon Bay gunman took out a temporary restraining order against the man in 2013.

The man also claimed that two days after Zhao tried to suffocate him, he again made threats of violence aimed at him and the restaurant.

"Mr. Zhao came out and said to me he wants to come back to work, if this can't be done this would be a bigger problem, which will not be good/pleasant for everyone," the man described in the harassment complaint.

He alleged that Zhao warned him that if he couldn't return to work, he would be "have no other choice."

Zhao, 66, had since been working as an agricultural worker for a mushroom farming company in Half Moon Bay. 

Authorities said on Monday, Zhao, carried out back-to-back shootings at two of the mushroom farms, killing seven people. 

Authorities believe Zhao acted alone when he first entered the Mountain Mushroom Farm where he worked, and opened fire, killing four people and leaving another seriously wounded. He then drove to another nearby farm where he had previously worked, and killed another three people, said Eamonn Allen, a spokesman with the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office.

"All of the evidence we have right now points to a workplace violence incident," Allen said. The dead were five men and two women. The eighth gunshot victim, a man, remained in the hospital. Some were Asian and others were Hispanic, and some were migrant workers.

Zhao was arrested Monday after sheriff's deputies found him in his car in the parking lot of a sheriff’s substation.

KTVU's Joseph Cousins contributed to this story.