The 66-year-old man suspected of killing four people at a California mushroom farm he worked at and three others at another nearby site Monday had been accused of trying to suffocate and threatening to kill a former coworker at another job nearly a decade ago.
Court records obtained by CNN show the suspect, identified by authorities as Chunli Zhao, was subject to a temporary restraining order after a former coworker and roommate accused him of attacking and threatening him in 2013.
Yingjiu Wang, who worked with Zhao at a restaurant and lived with him in a San Jose apartment, wrote in a court declaration that Zhao’s violent behavior started after Zhao quit that job in March 2013.
Early in the morning two days later, Zhao came into Wang’s room and asked for his salary. When Wang told him to pick it up at the restaurant, Zhao said he would kill Wang, and then “took a pillow and started to cover my face and suffocate me,” Wang wrote.
“While I couldn’t (breathe,) I used all my might within the few seconds to push him away with my blanket,” Wang wrote. He said he called for help and another roommate came to the door, but Zhao had allegedly locked it. The two men ended up wrestling on Wang’s bed before Zhao calmed down, according to Wang.
Two days later, he wrote, Zhao threatened him again, saying “he can use a knife to cut my head if he can’t come back to work.” Wang wrote he had no control over Zhao’s work status at the restaurant.
A judge issued a temporary restraining order against Zhao, which prevented him from getting too close to Wang and also banned him from owning or buying a gun, according to the court paperwork. The restraining order expired in July 2013. An attorney for Zhao in the 2013 complaint did not respond to requests for comment. Wang could not be reached for comment.
The incident was first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle.
Monday’s massacre was “a workplace violence incident” in which the suspect targeted specific people, San Mateo County Sheriff Christina Corpus said.
“He had an opportunity, we do believe, to hurt other people, but he had targeted individuals that he went after and pursued,” Corpus told CNN’s Erica Hill and Jim Sciutto Tuesday morning.
Zhao was a “co-worker or former co-worker” of the victims at each shooting site, the sheriff’s office said.
“The only known connection between the victims and the suspect is that they may have been coworkers,” Corpus said.
More than 3 dozen mass shootings this month
The killings mark California’s second massacre in three days involving Asian American victims and suspects. The San Mateo County victims were either Asian or Hispanic, Corpus said.
he US has already suffered 39 mass shootings this month – more than any other start of the year on record.
In California, 19 people were slaughtered in three mass shootings in just 44 hours:
• Eleven people killed after a gunman opened fire at a dance studio in Monterey Park, near Los Angeles;
• Seven people killed Monday in the Half Moon Bay area near San Francisco;
• One person killed and seven others wounded Monday evening in Oakland.