Hero California Church Members Hog-Tied Gunman Who Killed 1, Hurt 5

·3 min read
Mario Tama/Getty
Mario Tama/Getty

A gunman opened fire inside a California church on Sunday, killing one and critically wounding four others before heroic congregants took him down, disarmed him, and hog-tied him.

“They undoubtedly prevented additional injuries and fatalities,” Orange County Undersheriff Jeff Hallock said at a press conference following the attack at the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods.

The mass shooting was the second to shake the nation in as many days, coming on the heels of a massacre at a Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, New York.

But while authorities have said the Buffalo rampage was carried out by a white supremacist gunning for Black people, the motive in the California church shooting was still unclear.

The suspect was described as an older Asian man who did not live in the area, and his connection to the Taiwanese church group that was meeting at Geneva was unclear.

The incident unfolded at 1:26 p.m. while 30 to 40 people were attending a lunch banquet for a former pastor who is returning to Taiwan.

After the initial gunfire, Hallock said, “a group of church-goers detained him and hog-tied his legs with an extension cord and confiscated at least two weapons.” The man had two handguns, police said.

Peggy Huang, a Yorba Linda city councilwoman who parents are members of the congregation but were not present, told the Los Angeles Times that witnesses told her that after the shooting started, the pastor hit the gunman with a chair and other members accosted him.

Hallock praised the survivors for “exceptional heroism” and “bravery” in the face of danger.

<div class="inline-image__caption"><p>Officials gather at the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, California, after the shooting.</p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">Ringo Chiu/Getty</div>

Officials gather at the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, California, after the shooting.

Ringo Chiu/Getty

In addition to the one person who was dead at the scene, four others were taken to hospitals in critical condition, and there was no update on their condition. One other person suffered minor injuries, and the gunman was unhurt. The victims were described as four men, ages 66, 75, 82 and 92, and a woman age 86.

The FBI and the ATF were on the scene.

“Obviously, motive is always the question,” said FBI Assistant Director in Charge Kristi Johnson. “And at this time we are working very hard to determine the motive.”

The ATF had launched an emergency trace on the two weapons recovered at the scene to determine who sold and purchased them.

“This is upsetting and disturbing news, especially less than a day after a mass shooting in Buffalo,” Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) said in a tweet. “This should not be our new normal.”

According to the Laguna Woods city website, the majority of its residents live in retirement communities; Laguna Woods Village is the largest by far, with more than 18,000 residents across thousands of units.

Geneva Presbyterian Church has a stated mission of fostering “an inclusive congregation worshipping, learning, connecting, giving, and serving together,” its website says.

The Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church gathers at the sanctuary on Sunday mornings, according to a schedule published online.

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