HomeChinese American7 victims of Half Moon Bay shooting remembered

7 victims of Half Moon Bay shooting remembered

By Randall Yip & Lena Li

The sound of gongs and chimes opened the commemoration of seven farmworkers killed by a gunman one year ago on January 23 in Half Moon Bay, south of San Francisco.

The so-called “sound healing” turned the constant chatter of people greeting each other into hush silence.

A percussionist plays a gong as part of a "sound healing" ceremony to open the Half Moon Bay commemoration
Photo by Lena Lee

Organizers harnessed the power of the gentle melodies and vibrations coming from the instruments and hoped it would prove therapeutic for the more than 200 people at the memorial.

Then the names of the seven victims were read – Yetao Bing, 43; Qizhong Cheng, 66; Zhishen Liu, 73; Jingzhi Lu, 64; Marciano Martinez Jimenez, 50; Jose Romero Perez, 38; and Aixiang Zhang, 74.

They were two Hispanic and five Chinese farmworkers.

Ying Ze Wang (王英则), Jin Sheng Liu (刘金生) reflect on the tragic day one year ago when a gunman shot and kiled seven farmworkers.
Jin Sheng Liu (刘金生) witnessed the shooting and saw three people killed. His wife Ying Ze Wang (王英则) heard the gunshots. Photo by Lena Li.

Among those in attendance at the Half Moon Bay Boys and Girls Club were Ying Ze Wang (王英则) and Jin Sheng Liu (刘金生), two people at the farm that fateful day.

“It was really terrifying back then,” said Ying said to AsAmNews in Mandarin. “I heard the gunshots. My husband was even trying to lift up the dead bodies. Because those are the co-workers who have worked with my husband for six years. He tried to lift them up and help them to go to the hospital, but actually they were already dead,” she said as she began to tear.

Her husband was among the first to actually witness the shooting. A social worker said seeing such a horrific act left him understandably traumatized to this day.

He says he misses his children back in China “very badly” and describes himself as “OK.”

Ying says she is “better” but acknowledges it’s difficult.

“Neither of us are working. Ever since that shooting happened, we can’t go back to work. We just can’t, it’s too hard,” she said.

Jei Africa of San Mateo County worked to help the surviving farmworkers find both housing and mental health treatment. He told AsAmNews he understands the need for the families to leave the scene of the shooting.

“Well, obviously, when there’s a death, a traumatic event, it can trigger sort of all these feelings and the uncertainty, so we have to take them out for their own protection.”

The non-profit, Self Help for the Elderly, remains close to six Chinese farmworker families and is providing continual assistance.

Executive Director Annie Chung said most people didn’t know that Chinese even worked as farmworkers until news of the shooting spread across the country.

“I think that the Chinese farmworkers in not just Half Moon Bay, but in any farm work, are really invisible,” she said to AsAmNews. “Now that we know them really well, we know that they work seven days sometimes. A little bit of time off doesn’t allow them to go socialize and do a lot of things. So even banking, or learning English, learning computer skills, they really didn’t have time to do that.”

Sao Leng U, Director of Social Services at Self Help, describes the families as all going through post traumatic stress disorder. She said few people knew that the farmworkers lived in substandard conditions on the farm. She said the priority now is to find the families permanent housing.

Chung described their former homes on the farm as “shacks” not fit for humans. Local officials worked immediately to find temporary housing for the farmworkers, but those vouchers expire in March and now efforts are underway to extend those vouchers.

Families however are being warned they should start looking for alternative housing, although optimism remains high the housing will be extended.

More than $15 million has been raised to build permanent low-income housing in Half Moon Bay by local, state and federal officials as well as foundations and non-profits. The first 18 units are designated for farmworker families displaced by the shooting. They could move in as early as the fall. Non-profits such as Mercy Housing are also developing their own low-income housing projects in the city.

Children hold up drawings remembering the seven killed in the Half Moon Bay shooting
Photo by Randall Yip. Children hold up drawings remembering the seven killed in the Half Moon Bay shooting

“Today, let’s not forget, never again that the farm workers provide food security. We owe it to them. Let’s not forget that,” implored Half Moon Bay Mayor Joaquin Jimenez to the gathering. “Their safety, their well-being, that housing is provided for farmworkers (as well as) clean water, health care, mental health services. We come together as a community.”

Throughout the commemoration, a constant theme emerged. That the community at all levels of government, the non-profit and private sector, failed the farmworker families.

“We have come to make amends. Whether we are government officials, nonprofit leaders, health care workers, local advocates, we did not do our jobs,” said former Rep Jackie Speier who represented Half Moon Bay for 15 years. “We will not let that happen again. There is no doubt that somewhere in our county today, there are people being exploited and no one is responding. Somewhere in our county today, human trafficking is going on and people are being exploited and fear violence from their pimps or their families. We must be these victims’ guardians.”

Ying says she and her husband need help applying for citizenship.

“Right now, me and my husband are so old, we just want to become American citizens so we can apply for our children to live here with us. We would highly appreciate if you can help us with this,” she said.

After the shooting, Chinese for Affirmative Action joined together with 11 other non-profit to organize a GoFundMe campaign for the families. The campaign raised just over $200,000. That money has been distributed directly to the families in several grants totaling thousands of dollars.

“We worked closely with Coastside Hope to help distribute the majority of the checks. We also worked with Self Help to distribute 1-2 checks to Chinese speaking farmworker families.  Of course, no amount of funds can make up for the loss and trauma, but we heard back from two recipients who shared that they had never received a check so big in their life and they could barely believe it,” said Cynthia Choi, co-executive director of Chinese for Affirmative Action.

That fundraiser has ended, but those who would still like to help the families can donate to Coastside Hope and designate the donation to “Survivor Rental Subsidy Fund” in the honor section.

Members of the community form a circle and hold up battery-powered candles to remember the seven people killed in the Half Moon Bay shooting
Photo by Randall Yip

At the end of the ceremony, the attendees formed a circle and held battery powered candles and the flashlights on their cell phones in a moment of silence.

Prior to that, the city announced that work would begin to plan a permanent memorial to the seven victims.

“When it occurred a year ago, I think it blew a hole in everyone’s heart,” said Rep Anna Eshoo (D-San Mateo/Santa Clara Counties). “It also rips the veil off of the face of a part of the community that was not recognized by most people. And so in remembering them, there’s also honoring them to correct to fill the gaps, the holes that can exist in a community.”

AsAmNews is published by the non-profit, Asian American Media Inc. Follow us on FacebookX, InstagramTikTok and YouTube. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to support our efforts to produce diverse content about the AAPI communities. We are supported in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.


  1. Who owns the farms they work for and why are they not required to provide humane housing? Are they not required to do this?


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