One person was killed and five others were injured when gunmen opened fire at a church in Laguna Woods on Sunday afternoon.
The shooting took place at the Geneva Presbyterian Church, located in Quarter 24,000 on El Toro Road, around 1:25 p.m.
When Orange County Sheriff’s deputies arrived at the scene, the suspect, later identified as 68-year-old David Chow of Las Vegas, was tied with an extension cord. The sheriff was told that church members had confiscated at least two weapons.
Between 30 and 40 members of Taiwan’s Irwin Presbyterian Church, which holds services at the site every Sunday at 10 a.m., were at the church during the shooting. Orange County Sheriff Jeff Halak said the shooting took place at a banquet after a morning service at the church.
“We believe that a group of churchgoers detained him and tied his legs with an extension cord and confiscated at least two weapons from him,” Halak said. “He was detained when the deputies arrived. This group of churchgoers showed what we believe to be exceptional heroism and courage by intervening to stop the suspect. They undoubtedly prevented further injuries and deaths.”
Halok said a large number of people gathered at the church are believed to be of Taiwanese descent.
One victim died at the scene. His name was not immediately named.
Five wounded, four men and one woman, were taken to local hospitals, four in serious condition and one with minor injuries. They ranged in age from 66 to 92, the sheriff’s department said.
Two of the victims were taken to Orange County Global Medical Center, two to Providence Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, and one was taken to the University of California, Irvine Medical Center in Orange.
Laguna Woods is a community made up mostly of older people, with 82% of the population reportedly over the age of 65, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
It is unclear whether the suspect was present at the service before the shooting. On Monday, the sheriff’s department said he was charged with one murder suspicion and five counts of attempted murder.
“At the moment, we do not know what the suspect’s motive might be, whether he was the alleged target, or whether it was even a hate incident,” Hallock continued.
Footage from Sky9 shows the authorities filming one car with Nevada license plates in the church parking lot.
Stephen Galloway, assistant special agent in charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, noted that both firearms have serial numbers and are not considered “ghost weapons.”
The ATF was conducting an “emergency trail of found firearms,” Galloway said.
Christy Johnson, assistant director of the FBI’s Los Angeles division, said investigators were “working very hard to determine the motive.”
She added that linguists were involved in working with the congregations throughout the investigation.
The K9 explosive devices, which sniffed the bombs, swept the church premises and found no explosive devices.
The El Toro road was closed between Calais Sonora and Canyon Rennes for several hours, but has since reopened.
As members of the communityto pay tribute to the victims of the tragic event, local law enforcement and politicians provided additional support to residents, including mental health resources.
“Today is a very dark day for Laguna Woods and Orange County residents,” Orange County Governor Lisa Bartlett said. “Our thoughts and prayers are addressed to all those affected by this senseless tragedy – just a day after the tragic and hateful actions that led to the senseless death of Americans at the Tops Friendly Markets in Buffalo, New York. We are also dealing with people now , shot in places of worship.
“To the coffers of the churches affected by the violence that has taken place here today: we are here for you and we will seek justice for you,” Bartlett added. “For the perpetrator of such horrific acts, our county will work to ensure justice for the victims.”
Laguna Woods Mayor Carol Moore thanked “impressive” church members who “were wise enough to take action and put themselves at risk to save others.”
California Gov. Gavin News wrote on Twitter after the shooting.
“We are actively monitoring the shooting at Laguna Woods Church and working closely with local law enforcement,” News wrote. “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. ”
U.S. MP Katie Porter (D-Irvine) also issued a statement saying:
“Several people were injured and one was killed in a shooting at a church in Laguna Woods. This is sad and disturbing news, especially less than a day after the massacre in Buffalo. It should not be our new habit. I will work hard to support victims and their families. “
The statement “Call to Prayer” was published by the co-executive presbytery of Vision Tom Kramer:
“The Los Ranch Presbytery is deeply saddened by the fatal shooting that took place at a dinner in honor of a former pastor of the Taiwanese Congregation that nests at the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods. Early reports indicate that one person was killed and several others killed. severely wounded. Please keep the leadership of the Taiwan Congregation and Geneva in their prayers as they care for the injured in this shooting. In Your mercy, Lord, we pray. “
State Senator Dave Min (D-Irwin) also issued a statement Sunday night via the Twitter chain.
“I would like to express my thoughts and prayers to the victims, their families and the entire city of Lagoon Woods. There is a close-knit community, mostly retirees, it is almost unthinkable that one of the safest places in the country will be struck by the specter of gun violence “- he said in part. “We must refuse to accept these tragedies as the new norm in our schools, our houses of prayer or anywhere.”
U.S. Representative Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), who commented on gun control after areleased another statement on Sunday:
“It’s horrible to experience another tragic shooting in just 72 hours – another weekend in America marked by senseless violence,” Schiff wrote. “I will never accept this bloodshed as inevitable. It can be stopped. But as we have seen over the last few days, months and years, if we do not take immediate action on weapons security, history will repeat itself. Again and again. Enough is enough. We need to act. “