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Farmworkers cling to hope 1 year after Half Moon Bay mass shooting

Published January 23, 2024

Half Moon Bay


HALF MOON BAY, Calif. - Tuesday marks one year since a deadly mass shooting in Half Moon Bay, the deadliest shooting in San Mateo County.

The tragedy also exposed the inadequate living conditions of farmworkers in the community.

They shared with KTVU the scars left behind when a disgruntled employee started shooting on that fateful day.

Today, the quaint charm of Main Street in Half Moon Bay beckons visitors. But a sense of dread and distrust hangs heavy among farmworkers in this coastal city of lush green fields.

They are emotions born from the mass shooting that left seven farmworkers dead and one injured.

With the help of an interpreter, Siquio Garcia described in Spanish the heavy burden he and other farmworkers carry.

"Now, we are more careful with each other, who's around us. The trust has eroded. We are a little bit more afraid," said Garcia.

Garcia has toiled in these fields for 27 years, but he said adapting to the seasonal workers who work alongside him now gives him pause.

"We never know the characters of the people, the behavior of these people, what they are used to, he said.

"My hands get cold, chills," said Enrique Bazan of ALAS, a nonprofit that advocates for and provides social services for farmworkers.

He gave KTVU exclusive access to Concord Farms where three workers were shot and killed.

There was an eerie feeling as he pointed out the areas where the shootings took place.

"This is a memorial for Martin," Bazon said as he pointed to an altar created by co-workers at the spot where Marciano "Martin" Martinez-Jimenez was killed and where he worked packing mushrooms.

Among the items displayed was a wreath made of origami, a way for the farmworkers to grieve privately.

"They spent time on this. They didn't just create it and walk away," said Bazan.

The farmworkers also created a separate memorial at the workspace of the husband and wife also shot and killed on that day.

The bullet holes on a nearby garage door serve as a grim reminder of the shooting that took place here.

"The mental health issues — it doesn't happen just because of the shooting but how we respond to a crisis," said Bazan.

The shooting uncovered a housing crisis.

Farmworkers showed the current conditions they live in. One house accommodates up to 20 people who line up to share two bathrooms.

Farmworker Jose Luis Lopez said in Spanish that each person has between 10 and 15 minutes to take a shower every day.

Farmworkers said little, though much-needed, improvements came only after an inspection by a task force launched by San Mateo County. They said the only improvement they've seen in the past year is that two bathrooms have been remodeled. They hope that this year, the kitchen will get cleaned up after the next inspection.

"The real way that we go ahead and address this issue, we really have to build housing," said San Mateo County Supervisor Ray Mueller who represents the district which includes much of the county's coastal farmland.

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