Churchgoers overpowered and “hog-tied” a gunman after he opened fire in a California house of worship, killing one and injuring five more, authorities said.
The attack came early Sunday afternoon inside Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, where a Taiwanese congregation was having a lunch banquet following services, police said. After the gunman started shooting, church members grabbed him, took two handguns from him and “hog-tied” him with an extension cord, police said.
“That group of churchgoers displayed what we believe is exceptional heroism and bravery,” Orange County Undersheriff Jeff Hallock said. “It’s safe to say that had they not intervened this situation could have been much worse.”
Photos from my mom at the scene of a shooting at Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods. @OCSheriff reports that multiple people have been shot, a suspect has been detained, and a weapon has been recovered. @FoxNews pic.twitter.com/UfgxfjQEYV
— Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) May 15, 2022
Four of the shooting victims were in critical condition.
Police did not disclose a motive for the shooting, which came just one day after an 18-year-old suspect killed 10 and wounded three in what is believed to have been a racially- motivated attack at a Buffalo, N.Y., market.
All of the victims in the California attack were adults, and the oldest of those killed was 92, according to authorities.
Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes told reporters roughly 40 people were inside church during shooting. He did not provide any details about the suspect’s identity. The Los Angeles Times, quoting a law enforcement source, said the suspect is believed to be a 68-year-old Asian man from Las Vegas.
The Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church holds a 10 a.m. service at Geneva, according to its website.
Tom Cramer, a former pastor at the Geneva Presbyterian Church, told the LA Times the shooting occurred during a lunch reception honoring a former pastor of the Taiwanese church who is returning to Taiwan. Cramer said he did not know if that pastor was among the victims.
“They are sisters and brothers in Christ. They have been good friends with us,” Cramer said of the Taiwanese church. “This is a shock to us that anything like this would happen.”
Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said homicide investigators from his office were on the scene and that his office is working with federal law enforcement officials.
“Churches are intended to be safe sanctuaries from hate and violence,” Spitzer said in a statement. “That serenity was shattered this afternoon by a gunman who unleashed unspeakable violence in a house of worship. Good will always triumph over evil and we are working with our local and federal law enforcement partners to ensure the person responsible is held accountable.”