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Shooter Who Killed 1 And Critically Injured 4 Others At Laguna Woods Church Was Stopped By Congregants

Yellow caution tape reads: "Sheriff's line do not cross." In the background is a low wall with the words Geneva Presbyterian Church and signs displaying info about services.
A Taiwanese congregation holds Sunday service at the location of Geneva Presbyterian Church.
(Jill Replogle
/
LAist)
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A man was killed and four other people were critically wounded by a shooter at a Presbyterian church in Laguna Woods, according to the Orange County Sheriff. Another person suffered minor injuries.

The incident occurred a lunch banquet attended by 30 to 40 churchgoers from a Taiwanese congregation. At a late afternoon press conference, Undersheriff Jeff Hallock said a group of congregants quickly subdued the shooter, disarmed him and hog-tied him with extension cords.

Hallock called that an act of "exceptional heroism," and said there was no doubt that it prevented a far worse outcome.

The suspected shooter, an Asian man believed to be in his 60s, was detained and two handguns were recovered, officials said. Authorities have not given any information about a potential motive.

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The shooting victims were all senior citizens and all are Asian, the youngest person shot is 66 and the eldest 92. Authorities have not released the name of the person killed.

The shooting in Orange County took place the same weekend that a white man shot and killed 10 people and injured three others in a racially motivated attack at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York. The suspect, who is 18, has been charged with first-degree murder. That shooting in being investigated investigated as a hate crime and an act of terrorism.

Orange County Sheriff's officials said Sunday that they were alerted to the shooting at 1:26 p.m. and were able to respond quickly to Geneva Presbyterian Church on El Toro Road.

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Officials didn't name the congregation holding the banquet, however Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church holds its Sunday service at that location and lists the same address on its website.

The Investigation

The investigation is being led by the Orange Sheriff’s Department — with help from the FBI and agents with the Los Angeles branch of federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which is standard practice.

Representatives of each agency attended the late afternoon press conference. They said it was unknown if the suspected shooter had any connection to the church.

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After the man was detained, Sheriff's deputies swept the church for additional weapons or possibly explosives. None were found.

Sheriff's officials said everyone present would be interviewed, noting the investigation was still in the early stages

A statement on Twitter from Gov. Gavin Newsom says his office is working with local law enforcement and goes on to say “no one should have to fear going to their place of worship."

The church is a block south of the intersection of El Toro Road and Moulton Parkway — a couple miles south of the 5 Freeway.

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