California state agencies investigating conditions at the two sites of the Half Moon Bay mass killing | CNN


Two California state agencies are investigating whether there were potential labor and workplace safety and health violations at the two Half Moon Bay, California, farms where seven people were fatally shot last month.

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health and the state’s Labor Commissioner’s Office “want to ensure that employees are being afforded all the protections of California labor laws,” a state official told CNN in an emailed statement.

The statement did not offer further details about the probe, saying neither agency comments on ongoing investigations.

The suspect worked on one of the mushroom farms where he is suspected of fatally shooting four of his coworkers. The site, owned by California Terra Garden, is a mushroom farm where the suspected gunman worked and lived on for at least seven years, according to officials and a spokesperson for that company. A California Terra Garden spokesperson has said there were several mobile homes and trailers for employees on the property.

The suspect was also a former employee of another nearby farm where he’s accused of killing three former colleagues, San Mateo County Sheriff Christina Corpus previously said.

In a news conference the day after the massacre, California Gov. Gavin Newsom highlighted the living conditions the farm workers faced.

“Some of you should see where these folks are living, the conditions they’re in. Living in shipping containers,” the governor said. “Folks getting nine bucks an hour … no healthcare, no support, no services, but taking care of our health, providing a service to each and every one of us every single day.”

And in a statement several days later, the governor’s office called the workers’ living conditions “deplorable.”

“California is investigating the farms involved in the Half Moon Bay shooting to ensure workers are treated fairly and with the compassion they deserve,” according to a January 26 statement posted on Twitter by Daniel Villaseñor, the governor’s deputy press secretary.

At the time, a California Terra Garden spokesperson responded to the accusations, saying the governor’s comments did not reflect the living conditions of farm workers.

“The salary of all employees range from $16.50 to $24,” the spokesperson said, adding that workers receive “vacation days, company-sponsored health insurance, life/disability insurance, workman’s compensation insurance, and access to a 401(k) plan.” CNN has reached out to California Terra Garden for further details on how its employees are paid and for comment on the state agencies’ investigations.

The spokesperson said last month that the eight families who lived on the property lived in “mobile homes and large recreational vehicles” equipped with kitchens, bathrooms, showers and “standard living amenities.”

“No one lives in anything like shipping containers or tents as was erroneously reported. The families pay approximately $300 a month to rent these living spaces, well below market rate,” the company spokesperson said.

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