Congregants hog-tied gunman; California church shooting leaves one dead

(Video Credit: ABC 10 News)

Orange County Undersheriff Jeff Hallock praised congregants of the Geneva Presbyterian Church Sunday for heroically hogtying and detaining a gunman who allegedly killed one parishioner and critically wounded four others in a shooting rampage.

The alleged shooter is reportedly an Asian man in his sixties, according to Fox News. He was taken down by a group of churchgoers after allegedly opening fire during a luncheon honoring a former pastor of a Taiwanese congregation at the Laguna Woods church in southern California. They hogtied the shooter’s legs and held him until police could arrive on the scene.

Hallock said during a press conference on the shooting that churchgoers displayed “exceptional heroism and bravery” during the incident, and without their quick thinking and actions, there definitely could have been more casualties. “They undoubtedly prevented further injuries and fatalities,” the undersheriff said.

There were reportedly 30 to 40 individuals in the church at the time of the shooting. A spokesperson for the Orange County Sheriff stated that many of those who were in the building were Taiwanese.

The police say they received a call reporting the shooting at 1:26 pm. Hallock stated that the man who was detained had at least two weapons on him. The undersheriff noted that two handguns were recovered from the scene.

Authorities said it was not clear whether the shooter is a member of the congregation or not, and they were working to determine his city of residence.

“Four victims have been critically wounded, one with minor injuries,” the Orange County Sheriff’s Department said on Twitter. “All victims are adults and are en route to the hospital. One victim is deceased at the scene.”

The five victims, including those who were taken to local hospitals to be treated for gunshot wounds, were 66, 75, 82, 86, and 92 years old, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. Four were men and one was a woman.

The Taiwanese congregation routinely holds a luncheon after their Sunday morning service, Laguna Woods Mayor Pro Tem Cynthia Conners told CNN.

“We’ll see what we can do to meet with the members of the congregation, we’ll bring in someone from the Orange County Human Rights Commission … and try to make sure that the Asian members of our community feel as safe as all the other members of our community, although I would have to say I think we all feel a little less safe today,” she remarked.

Federal agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives as well as the FBI arrived on the scene following the shooting. A motive has not been officially determined at this point.

“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 asserted.

Taiwan’s government says its Economic and Cultural Office in Los Angeles has activated emergency response plans, according to CNN.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs sends our deepest condolences to the victims and their families,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Joanne Ou stated. “We will keep in touch with the family members of the victims to understand their needs, and provide all necessary help.”

“We are actively monitoring the shooting at a church in Laguna Woods and working closely with local law enforcement,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office tweeted. “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.”

Laguna Woods is a city in Orange County that is bordered by Laguna Hills and Lake Forest. It is located approximately 10 miles from the University of California Irvine.

“The Presbytery of Los Ranchos is deeply saddened by a fatal shooting that occurred at a lunch reception honoring a former pastor of the Taiwanese congregation that nests at Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods,” the Presbytery of Los Ranchos, an Anaheim church, said in a statement given to NBC4.

“Initial reports indicate that one person was killed, and several others were severely injured. Please keep the leadership of the Taiwanese congregation and Geneva in your prayers as they care for those traumatized by this shooting. In your mercy, O Lord, we pray,” the statement concluded.

“Shocked and saddened by the fatal shooting at the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church in California. I join the families of the victims and Taiwanese American communities in grief and pray for the speedy recovery of the wounded survivors,” Taiwan Ambassador Bi-khim Hsiao tweeted.

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