HALF MOON BAY, Calif. — A barrage of gun violence left the nation’s most populous state groping for answers on Tuesday as the death toll from mass shootings in California rose to at least 25 people in a little over a week.
In Northern California, a 66-year-old man was in custody after the shooting deaths of seven people on Monday, including four at a mushroom farm near Half Moon Bay, a coastal community south of San Francisco, and three more at a nearby agricultural nursery. An eighth victim was hospitalized with gunshot wounds, recovering from surgery.
Officials at the San Mateo County Sheriff’s office said the suspect, Zhao Chunli, was an employee at one of the locations and called the shooting an incident of “workplace violence.”
In Southern California, investigators continued their search for a motive in the massacre on Saturday night at a ballroom dancing venue in Monterey Park, a Los Angeles suburb, where 11 people were killed and nine more were wounded. The suspected gunman — Huu Can Tran, 72, a former volunteer dance instructor who the authorities said may have been driven by personal grievances — killed himself on Sunday.
The cases, which bracketed celebration of the Lunar New Year, claimed the lives largely of immigrant victims: Asian Americans in their 50s, 60s and 70s at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio, and Asian and Latino agricultural workers around Half Moon Bay. The suspects were immigrant Asian men in their 60s and 70s — a rare age bracket for assailants in mass shootings.
Those tragedies were only two in a series of shootings this month in a state that, overall, has some of the nation’s lowest mortality rates from gun violence, as well as some of its toughest gun laws.
Eight days ago, in an attack that the authorities compared to a drug cartel-style execution, six people were shot dead in rural Tulare County in Central California, including a 16-year-old girl and her 10-month-old baby. On Monday night, one person was killed and seven people were wounded in a gun battle in Oakland.
In San Mateo County, where details about the Half Moon Bay shooting were still emerging, Assemblyman Marc Berman said the coastal city, which he represents in the legislature, usually feels far from San Francisco and Silicon Valley.
“Half Moon Bay is as close to small-town America as we get in the Bay Area,” he said, adding, “When you get here, you feel like you’re a million miles away from all those problems. Yesterday, all those problems came crashing down.”
Officials said on Tuesday that the suspect in that case worked with some of the victims, and had legally purchased the semiautomatic handgun he used in the shooting. They released few other details.
Half Moon Bay is mostly known for surfing and for an annual pumpkin festival. “Cases like this — we’ve never had one in this county,” said Steve Wagstaffe, the San Mateo District Attorney, “of this many deaths at one scene or one time.”