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Half Moon Bay mass shooting survivor speaks out

Updated: Sep 25, 2023

Published August 24, 2023

HALF MOON BAY, Calif. - Pedro Romero Perez, the lone survivor of a tragic mass shooting in Half Moon Bay, addressed the public for the first time during a farmworkers roundtable discussion. 

Sharing his message with congressional leaders at the community meeting, Perez shed light on his journey of recovery and the challenges he faces.

The event took place seven months after the horrific incident that unfolded at the mushroom farm, where Perez and his brother, Jose Romero Perez, 38, worked side by side. Pedro Romero Perez survived the shooting but bore the pain of losing his brother in the tragedy.

During the roundtable, organized in collaboration with Rep. Adam Schiff and San Mateo County Supervisor Ray Mueller, Perez voiced his concerns, highlighting the struggles faced by farmworkers in the community. Schiff is currently running to fill a Senate seat in 2024 after current Sen. Dianne Feinstein announced she will not be seeking reelection.

When Schiff asked about his needs, Perez expressed uncertainty and overwhelming emotions.

"I don’t know," he told a translator in Spanish. "I’m really not sure how you can help me."

Perez sustained multiple gunshot wounds during the shooting and continues to deal with physical repercussions. Perez was shot multiple times, had to undergo several surgeries, and walks with a noticeable limp. 

He said he has been unable to return to work due to his injuries, and his parents and late brother’s three children in Mexico rely on his financial support.

When prompted by the moderator, Perez spoke about the financial difficulties he encountered. 

Belinda Hernandez-Arriaga, the founder and executive director of ALAS, an organization dedicated to supporting farmworkers, affirmed the economic hardships that plague these workers.

"Families are telling us they're having to choose between food and rent," she said, "We have farmworkers coming through the line [of our foodbank] for the same vegetables they help grow. We need to be thinking about what else we can do to make changes and improve their wages and living conditions."

Affordable housing emerged as a recurring concern among the farmworkers at the roundtable. County leaders, including Supervisor Ray Mueller, acknowledged this challenge and outlined initiatives to address it. Plans are underway to construct modular homes for farmworkers and to acquire land for further housing development.

"What’s different about that site is that farmworkers will actually be able to buy those modular [homes]," Mueller said. "We’re also looking to purchase 48 acres of land just south of Half Moon Bay, which we can use to build a lot of work force and farmworker housing."

In the aftermath of the tragedy, both county and state leaders pledged to enact reforms aimed at enhancing the working and living conditions of farmworkers. While progress has been made, challenges such as housing shortages require time to be effectively addressed, according to Hernandez-Arriaga.

As Perez courageously shared his story, his words resonated with the ongoing struggle of farmworkers in Half Moon Bay. The roundtable served as a platform for their voices to be heard, spurring conversations and actions toward a better future for the community's farm labor force.

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