Victims of Half Moon Bay Mass Shooting File Lawsuit for Failure to Protect Farm Workers


A migrant farmworker who survived the deadliest mass shooting in San Mateo County’s history has filed a lawsuit against the owners of the mushroom farms where first January 23, 2023 killings took place. 24-year-old Pedro Felix Romero Perez survived the shooting despite being shot five times: once in the hip, twice in the stomach, once in the elbow, and once in the face. Pedro’s older brother Jose tragically died in the same shooting. Jose is survived by his wife and four children.

Pedro and Jose’s family have filed lawsuits against California Terra Gardens, Inc. and Xianmin Guan, the owners of the mushroom farm. The lawsuits allege that the owners failed to take reasonable steps to protect their tenants from violent acts of third parties. The lawsuit alleges that Chunli Zhao, the shooter, had a documented history of violence and that there had been another shooting on the property in July 2022 (seven months before January massacre). The farm owners had no plan in place to protect Pedro, Jose, or others from acts of violence at the farm, which led to the January 2023 tragedy.

The farm was not only unsafe, it was also unsanitary. After the shooting, the public learned about the deplorable living conditions suffered by the County’s farmworkers. Pedro and his brother had been living in a shipping container with no running water, no insulation, and no sanitary area to prepare food.  Many farmers are living in these conditions.

Pedro and Jose’s families are represented by Joe Cotchett, Duffy Magilligan and Nabilah Hossain, of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy.

"Pedro and Jose are part of society’s most vulnerable population: migrant farmworkers living in poverty on the margins of our communities. These workers toil long hours in horrific conditions to put food on our tables. The owners have a responsibility to protect them from violence in their homes."

          Duffy Magilligan, attorney with Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy

"California Terra Gardens profits off the backs of migrant workers like Pedro and Jose, who persevered in the face of unimaginable working and living conditions. Instead of protecting them like the essential workers, California Terra Gardens failed to safeguard them from numerous dangers."   

          Nabilah Hossain, attorney with Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy

Both the County of San Mateo and the City of Half Moon Bay have been working to clean up the very sad living conditions of farm workers for years.  Following the shooting, Supervisor Ray Mueller was quoted as saying:

“We must never forget the lives of those we lost in the tragedy of the Half Moon Bay shooting. We commit ourselves to honor their memory by working every day to prevent gun violence and ensuring that every farmworker in San Mateo County works in dignity in compliance with labor laws, and demanding that every farm working family resides in healthy and safe housing.”

A task force has been established to inspect every farm in San Mateo County as there are over 120 agricultural properties.  There has been stated and federal support.  The community support has been overwhelming as the suit points out.

Courtesy of CPM
Courtesy of CPM
Courtesy of CPM
Courtesy of CPM

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