Half Moon Bay (California): Police officials arrest the suspected gunman after he reportedly arrived at a sheriff’s station to turn himself in.—Reuters
Half Moon Bay (California): Police officials arrest the suspected gunman after he reportedly arrived at a sheriff’s station to turn himself in.—Reuters

MONTEREY PARK / WASHIN­GTON: Just two days after a gunman killed 11 people at a Los Angeles-area dance studio, seven more victims were shot dead on Monday in an agricultural area near San Francisco.

As California suffered one of its bloodiest spates of mass gun violence in decades, US President Joe Biden on Tuesday also called on the Congress to act quickly to ban assault weapons, as California reeled from two deadly mass shootings in less than 48 hours.

Authorities said they had not identified the motive for either of the rampages. The attacks seemed especially baffling in part because the suspects in each were men of retirement age, much older than is typical for perpetrators of deadly mass shootings that have become numbingly routine in the US.

The latest gun carnage struck the coastal town of Half Moon Bay, about 30 miles south of San Francisco, where a gunman opened fire on groups of farm workers at two locations about a mile apart, leaving a total of seven dead and one badly wounded, then fled.

The accused gunman, identified as Chunli Zhao, 67, was taken into custody a short time later after he was found sitting in his vehicle, parked outside a sheriff’s station, where authorities said they believe he had come to turn himself in.

Biden urges action

In a statement on Tuesday, President Joe Biden said, “[W]e know the scourge of gun violence across America requires stronger action,” he said, calling on Congress to reintroduce a federal assault weapons ban.

A group of senators on Monday reintroduced a federal Assault Weapons Ban and legislation that would raise the minimum purchase age for assault weapons to 21. A law banning assault rifles expired in 2004 and Congress has repeatedly failed to renew it. Many Republicans oppose a ban citing the constitutional right to gun ownership.

Separately, a gunman who shot dead three people in what police say was a random attack was being hunted in the western US state of Washington on Tuesday. Police in the city of Yakima say a man killed three people at a convenience store overnight in an apparently unprovoked attack. “It appears to be a random situation,” Yakima Police Chief Matthew Murray said. Murray said officers were examining surveillance footage from the area around the Circle K store after the attack. “The first shooting was inside the store. Then he came outside the store and shot a victim outside the store and then went across the street and apparently shot one more person. We have three confirmed deceased parties.”

Published in Dawn, January 25th, 2023

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