Authorities were dispatched to the scene of a shooting at a church in Laguna Woods on Sunday.
The circumstances leading up to the incident were not immediately known, though Orange County Sheriff’s Department deputies were dispatched to the scene at Geneva Presbyterian Church in the 24000 block of El Toro Road at around 1:25 p.m.
Deputies disclosed that the suspect, an Asian male adult somewhere in his 60s, had been detained at the scene and a weapon recovered.
They don’t believe he lives in the area and are working to determine a city of residence.
One man suffered fatal wounds and died at the scene, while other victims are said to be critically wounded and one suffered minor injuries.
All of the victims were reported to be adults.
Between 30 and 40 people were said to be inside of the church at the time of the shooting and Orange County Undersheriff Jeff Hallock detailed that a large number of the people gathered at the church were believed to be of Taiwanese descent.
During a press briefing later Sunday afternoon, Hallock continued to note that the incident occurred at a lunch banquet following a morning service at the church.
“We believe a group of churchgoers detained him and hogtied his legs with an extension cord and confiscated at least two weapons from him,” Hallock said. “He was detained when deputies arrived. That group of churchgoers displayed what we believe is exception heroism and bravery in intervening to stop the suspect. They undoubtedly prevented additional injuries and fatalities.”
Orange County Fire Authority paramedics were working to treat victims at the scene and transport those who required further care.
Sky9 overhead revealed that authorities had taped off a single vehicle with Nevada license plates in the parking lot of the church.
“At this time we do not know what the suspect’s motive may be or whether he had an intended target, or whether this was even a hate-related incident,” Hallock continued.
Special agents with the Los Angeles branch of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives were said to be en route to assist with the investigation.
Additionally, representatives from the Federal Bureau of Investigation were also on scene.
As a result, authorities urged the public to avoid the area as El Toro Road was closed between Calle Sonora and Canyon Wren as the investigation continued.
California Governor Gavin Newsom took to Twitter following news of the shooting releasing a statement that read:
“We are actively monitoring the shooting at a church in Laguna Woods and working closely with local law enforcement.
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.”
Congresswoman Katie Porter, who represents the 45th Congressional District which oversees the area also released a statement to the public:
“A shooting at a church in Laguna Woods has left multiple people injured and one deceased. This is upsetting and disturbing news, especially less than a day after a mass shooting in Buffalo. This should not be our new normal. I will work hard to support the victims and their families.”
A “Call to Prayer” statement was issued by Presbytery Co-Executive for Vision and Mission/Head of Staff Tom Cramer, which read:
“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. 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 the those traumatized by this shooting. In your mercy, O Lord, we pray.”
Laguna Woods is a community comprised primarily of persons considered to be senior citizens, with 82% of residents reportedly over the age of 65, as detailed by the United States Census Bureau.
This is a developing story. Check back for details.