Woods Lagoon, California – A man opened fire during lunch at a church in Southern California, killing one person and injuring five elderly people before the pastor hit an armed man with a chair on the head and parishioners tied him with electric cords.

Jerry Chen had just walked into the kitchen of the hall for church friends around 1:30 p.m. on Sunday when he heard gunshots.

Chen, 72, a longtime member of Taiwan’s Irwin Presbyterian Church, which holds services at the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, looked around the corner and saw others shouting, running and diving under the tables.

“I knew someone was shooting,” he said. “I was very, very scared. I ran out the kitchen door to call 911.”

Officials said the shooting ended after a gunman killed one person and wounded five elderly people before worshipers tied his legs with an electric cord until deputies arrived. Four of the five wounded received severe gunshot wounds; their terms were not immediately available Monday morning.

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David Chow, 68, of Las Vegas, has been convicted of one count of murder and five counts of attempted murder, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office tweeted. Prison documents show that Zhou is on $ 1 million bail. It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post.

On Monday, the church was cordoned off with yellow police tape, and several bouquets of flowers were left outside the church grounds.

But on Sunday afternoon, Chen said he was in such a state of shock that he could not tell the operator his whereabouts when he called the 911 service from the church parking lot.

“I had to ask someone else for the address,” he said.

Chen said a group of about 40 worshipers gathered in the Friendship Hall for lunch after the morning service to greet their former pastor Billy Chang, a beloved and respected member of the community who has served the church for 20 years. Chang returned to Taiwan two years ago. It was his first time returning to the state, Chen said.

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“Everyone just finished dinner,” he said. “They were photographed with Pastor Chang. I just finished lunch and went to the kitchen. “

Then he heard gunshots and ran out.

Shortly afterwards, Chen said he heard details of what happened inside from others who came out. Partners told Chen that when the gunman stopped to recharge, Chang hit his chair on the head, while others quickly moved to grab his gun. They then subdued him and tied him up, Chen said.

“It was amazing how brave (Chang) and others were,” he said. “It’s so sad. I never, ever thought that something like this would happen in my church, in my community. “

Most church members are elderly, highly educated Taiwanese immigrants, Chen said.

“We are mostly retired, and the average age of our church is 80,” he said.

Orange County Sheriff Jeff Halak praised the rapid work of parishioners in detaining an armed man.

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“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.”

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

When news of the shooting came after a racist riot in Buffalo – where a white gunman allegedly attacked a supermarket in a predominantly black area – fears spread that the Taiwanese congregation had also been the target of hate crimes.

But when the shooter was identified as an Asian, other questions arose while the investigation into the violence and the motives of the militant continued.

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The case is in its infancy, Halok 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.

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 is about 50 miles (80 kilometers) southeast of Los Angeles. There are at least 65. The shooting took place in an area with many houses of worship, including Catholic, Lutheran and Methodist churches. and a Jewish synagogue.

The sheriff’s department said four Asian men aged 66, 75, 82 and 92 and an 86-year-old Asian woman were among those shot.

It was not immediately clear whether all the victims were of Taiwanese origin, or whether the gunman also has ties to Taiwan.

The democratically elected government of Taiwan has long practiced a religion on the island, where most follow Buddhism and traditional Chinese beliefs, but where Christianity and other religions also thrive.

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Taiwan’s chief representative to the United States, Bi-Him Xiao, expressed his condolences to the families on Twitter.

“I join the families of the victims and Taiwanese American communities in grief and pray for the speedy recovery of the survivors,” Xiao wrote on Sunday.

The deadliest shooting at an American church took place in 2017 in Sutherland Springs, Texas. An armed man opened fire during a Sunday service at the First Baptist Church and killed more than two dozen people.

In 2015, Dylan Rufus fired dozens of bullets during a closing prayer at a 2015 Bible study session at Emmanuel AME’s Mother Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Nine members of the Black Assembly were killed in racist violence, and Ruth became the first person in the United States to be sentenced to death for a federal hate crime. His appeal remains in the Supreme Court.

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This story has been corrected to show that Pastor Billy Chang did not retire.

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Weber and Bharat reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press journalist Stephanie Dazio of Los Angeles also contributed to the story.

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