LAGUNA WOODS, Calif. – A man opened fire during a luncheon at a Southern California church on Sunday, killing one person and injuring five senior citizens before parishioners stopped and tied him up in what a sheriff’s official called an “exceptional act.” heroism and courage ”.
Four of the five wounded received serious gunshot wounds during violence at the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, Orange County Sheriff’s Office said.
The suspect in the shooting, an Asian man in his 60s, was in custody, and Deputy Sheriff Jeff Halak found two pistols at the scene. The motive for the shooting was not known immediately, but investigators do not believe the gunman lives in the village, he said.
It is believed that most of those who were in the church at the time were of Taiwanese descent, said Carrie Brown, a sheriff’s spokeswoman.
30 to 40 members of Taiwan’s Irwin Presbyterian Church gathered for lunch after a morning church service in Geneva when a shooting broke out shortly before 1:30 p.m. When the deputies arrived, the parishioners tied up the armed man and detained him.
“This group of churchgoers has shown what we believe is exceptional heroism and courage by intervening to stop the suspect. They have undoubtedly prevented further injuries and deaths, ”Halok said. “I think it’s safe to say that if people hadn’t intervened, things could have been a lot worse.”
Four Asians, aged 66, 75, 82 and 92, and an 86-year-old Asian were injured, the sheriff’s office said. Authorities initially said only four of the five survivors had been shot.
Information about the victim was not published immediately.
The investigation was at an early stage, Halak said. He said many unanswered questions include whether the attacker attended church service, whether he was a known member of the church and how many shots were fired.
A former pastor of the Taiwanese Congregation was honored at the afternoon reception, a statement from the Los Ranch presbytery, the church’s governing body, said.
“Please keep the leadership of the Taiwanese Congregation and Geneva in their prayers, as they care for those affected by the shooting,” Tom Kramer said in a statement on Facebook.
Federal agents from the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives responded. The FBI also sent agents to the scene to help the sheriff.
Lagoon Woods was built as a residential community and later became a city. More than 80% of the city’s population of 18,000 people about 50 miles (80 kilometers) southeast of Los Angeles is at least 65 people.
Governor Gavin Newsom’s office said on Twitter that he was closely monitoring the situation.
“No one should be afraid to go to a place of worship. Our thoughts are with the victims, the community and all those affected by this tragic event, ”the tweet said.
The incident took place in an area with many houses of worship, including a Catholic, Lutheran and Methodist church and a Jewish synagogue.
On its website, the Geneva Presbyterian Church describes its mission as “remembering, telling and living like Jesus, being just, kind and humble.”
“Everyone is invited here. Indeed, we mean it! … Geneva strives to be an inclusive congregation that worships, learns, connects, gives and serves together. ”
The shooting came the day after an 18-year-old shot dead 10 people at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York.
“This is sad and disturbing news, especially less than a day after the Buffalo massacre,” said Katie Porter, a spokeswoman for Laguna Woods. “This should not be our new norm. I will work hard to support the victims and their families. “