A gunman opened fire in a Southern California church during a lunch banquet on Sunday, killing one person and wounding five, before churchgoers detained the suspect and hog-tied his legs with an electrical cord, authorities said.
Police responded to the incident that unfolded at about 1:30 p.m. local time at the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods and arrested an Asian male in his 60s, Orange County Undersheriff Jeff Hallock told a news conference.
“That group of churchgoers displayed … exceptional heroism and bravery in intervening to stop the suspect. They undoubtedly prevented additional injuries and fatalities,” he said.
One person died at the scene while four other victims were critically wounded. Another person suffered minor injuries, he said. All of the injured were taken to hospitals.
About 30 to 40 people were in the church when the shooting occurred, Hallock said.
The incident occurred at a luncheon where congregants were hosting former pastor Billy Chang who had returned to his home country of Taiwan 2 years ago. The majority of the church attendees were elderly and of Taiwanese descent. Four Asian men, ages 66, 75, 82, and 92, and an 86-year-old Asian woman were wounded in the attack according to the sheriff’s department.
“At this time, we do not know what the suspect’s motive may be or whether he had an intended target, or whether this is even a hate-related incident,” Hallock said, adding that authorities believe the suspect does not live in the area.
Two handguns were found at the scene.
“No 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,” Governor Gavin Newsom’s office said on Twitter.
It was at least the second mass shooting of the weekend in the United States. In Buffalo, New York, on Saturday, a white 18-year-old man opened fire at a supermarket in a mostly black neighborhood, killing 10 and wounding three in what authorities described as a racist attack.
Copyright 2022 Thomson/Reuters (Additions and edits for FISM News by Michael Cardinal)