California churchgoers detained gunman in deadly attack

  • Crime scene tape is stretched across an area at Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, Calif., Sunday, May 15, 2022, after a fatal shooting.

    Crime scene tape is stretched across an area at Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, Calif., Sunday, May 15, 2022, after a fatal shooting. Associated Press

  • Orange County Sheriff's deputies guard the parking lot of Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, Calif., Sunday, May 15, 2022, after a fatal shooting.

    Orange County Sheriff's deputies guard the parking lot of Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, Calif., Sunday, May 15, 2022, after a fatal shooting. Associated Press

  • A firetruck is seen outside the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, Calif., on Sunday, May 15, 2022 after a fatal shooting. (Leonard Ortiz/The Orange County Register via AP)

    A firetruck is seen outside the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, Calif., on Sunday, May 15, 2022 after a fatal shooting. (Leonard Ortiz/The Orange County Register via AP) Associated Press

  • Investigators gather outside the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, Calif., on Sunday, May 15, 2022 after a fatal shooting. (Leonard Ortiz/The Orange County Register via AP)

    Investigators gather outside the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, Calif., on Sunday, May 15, 2022 after a fatal shooting. (Leonard Ortiz/The Orange County Register via AP) Associated Press

  • A sign for the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, Calif., is seen on Sunday, May 15, 2022 after a fatal shooting. (Leonard Ortiz/The Orange County Register via AP)

    A sign for the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, Calif., is seen on Sunday, May 15, 2022 after a fatal shooting. (Leonard Ortiz/The Orange County Register via AP) Associated Press

  • An Orange County Sheriff's Department K-9 unit checks the grounds at Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, Calif., Sunday, May 15, 2022, after a fatal shooting.

    An Orange County Sheriff's Department K-9 unit checks the grounds at Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, Calif., Sunday, May 15, 2022, after a fatal shooting. Associated Press

  • An Orange County Sheriff's deputy is seen at the parking lot of Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, Calif., Sunday, May 15, 2022, after a fatal shooting.

    An Orange County Sheriff's deputy is seen at the parking lot of Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, Calif., Sunday, May 15, 2022, after a fatal shooting. Associated Press

  • A K-9 unit checks the grounds of Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, Calif., Sunday, May 15, 2022, after a fatal shooting.

    A K-9 unit checks the grounds of Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, Calif., Sunday, May 15, 2022, after a fatal shooting. Associated Press

  • A patrol vehicle is seen outside Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, Calif., Sunday, May 15, 2022, after a fatal shooting.

    A patrol vehicle is seen outside Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, Calif., Sunday, May 15, 2022, after a fatal shooting. Associated Press

  • Orange County Sheriff's deputies check the identification of a person trying to gain access to a parking lot by Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, Calif., Sunday, May 15, 2022, after a fatal shooting.

    Orange County Sheriff's deputies check the identification of a person trying to gain access to a parking lot by Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, Calif., Sunday, May 15, 2022, after a fatal shooting. Associated Press

 
 
Posted5/16/2022 7:00 AM

LAGUNA WOODS, Calif. -- A man opened fire during a lunch reception at a Southern California church on Sunday, killing one person and wounding five senior citizens before being stopped and hog-tied by parishioners in what a sheriff's official called an act of 'œexceptional heroism and bravery.'

Four of the five people wounded suffered critical gunshot injuries during the violence at Geneva Presbyterian Church in the city of Laguna Woods, Orange County Sheriff's Department officials said.

 

The suspect in the shooting, an Asian man in his 60s, was in custody and deputies recovered two handguns at the scene, Undersheriff Jeff Hallock said. A motive for the shooting wasn't immediately known but investigators don't believe the gunman lives in the community, he said.

The majority of those inside the church at the time were believed to be of Taiwanese descent, said Carrie Braun, a sheriff's spokesperson.

Between 30 and 40 members of the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church were gathered for lunch after a morning church service at Geneva when gunfire erupted shortly before 1:30 p.m., officials said. When deputies arrived, parishioners had the gunman hog-tied and in custody.

'œThat group of churchgoers displayed what we believe is exceptional heroism and bravery in intervening to stop the suspect. They undoubtedly prevented additional injuries and fatalities,' Hallock said. 'œI think it's safe to say that had people not intervened, it could have been much worse."

The wounded victims were four Asian men, who were 66, 75, 82 and 92 years old, and an 86-year-old Asian woman, the sheriff's department said. Authorities originally said only four of the five surviving victims had been shot.

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Information about the person who was killed was not immediately released.

The investigation was in its early stages, Hallock said. He said the many unanswered questions include whether the assailant attended the church service, if he was known to church members and how many shots were fired.

The afternoon lunch reception was honoring a former pastor of the Taiwanese congregation, according to a statement from the Presbytery of Los Ranchos, a church administrative body.

'œPlease keep the leadership of the Taiwanese congregation and Geneva in your prayers as they care for the those traumatized by this shooting,' the presbytery's Tom Cramer said in a statement on Facebook.

Federal agents from the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives responded. The FBI also sent agents to the scene to assist the sheriff.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Laguna Woods was built as a senior living community and later became a city. More than 80% of residents in the city of 18,000 people about 50 miles (80 kilometers) southeast of Los Angeles are at least 65.

Gov. Gavin Newsom's office said on Twitter that he was closely monitoring the situation.

'œNo one should have to fear going to their place of worship. Our thoughts are with the victims, community, and all those impacted by this tragic event," the tweet said.

The incident occurred in an area with a cluster of houses of worship, including Catholic, Lutheran and Methodist churches and a Jewish synagogue.

On its website, Geneva Presbyterian Church describes its mission as 'œto remember, tell, and live the way of Jesus by being just, kind, and humble.'

'œAll are welcome here. Really, we mean that! '» Geneva aspires to be an inclusive congregation worshipping, learning, connecting, giving and serving together.'

The shooting came a day after an 18-year-old man shot and killed 10 people at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York.

'œThis is upsetting and disturbing news, especially less than a day after a mass shooting in Buffalo,' said U.S. Rep Katie Porter, whose district includes Laguna Woods. 'œThis should not be our new normal. I will work hard to support the victims and their families.'

___

Weber reported from Los Angeles, along with Associated Press journalist Stefanie Dazio.

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