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The accused at Half Moon Bay, in northern California, who allegedly gunned down seven farm workers in what authorities called a workplace violence rampage had tried to suffocate his co-worker with a pillow years earlier.  

Officers apprehended Chunli Zhao, 67, after seven people were shot dead at agricultural businesses in California on Monday. 

He allegedly killed four people and wounded one at Mountain Mushroom Farm and then went on to fatally shoot three others at another mushroom farm several miles away.

Zhao, found in his car in a sheriff’s office parking lot, is said to have been working at one of the locations targeted in the shooting.

In 2013, the shooting suspect was accused of trying to kill his roommate after becoming angry that he didn’t have checks from a job Zhao had quit days earlier, the San Francisco Chronicle reported, citing Santa Clara County court documents.

The 67-year-old allegedly threatened roommate Jingjiu Wang and tried to suffocate him with a pillow after sneaking into his room, court documents stated.

The roommate allegedly wrote: “Mr Zhao said to me, today I am going to kill you.

“He then took a pillow and started to cover my face and suffocate me.”

Wang fended off the attack by using all his “might”, according to a restraining order application that he requested against Zhao, the paper reported.

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Following the shooting, San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office said of the suspect: “Chunli was taken into custody without incident and the weapon was located in his vehicle. 

“There is no current outstanding threat to the community.”

Police believe Zhao was a worker at the agricultural business where the Chinese-American farm workers were killed.

San Mateo County Board of Supervisors President Dave Pine told Associated Press the attacks were committed by a “disgruntled worker”.

Zhao is expected to be arraigned on Wednesday, with officials saying prosecutors will review the available evidence and decide on charges.

The horrific shooting came just two days after a separate mass shooting happened, also in California, at a dance studio – 11 people were killed. 

The new year has brought a shocking string of mass killings in the US — six in less than three weeks, accounting for 39 deaths.

Three have occurred in California since January 16, according to a database compiled by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University.