One person died and four others were hospitalized with critical injuries following a shooting at a Laguna Woods church Sunday afternoon.
Orange County Sheriff’s deputies responded to Geneva Presbyterian Church on the 24000 block of El Toro Road around 1:30 p.m. for a report of several people who were shot.
Firefighters and paramedics were called to the scene to transport “multiple patients,” the Orange County Fire Authority said in a tweet.
Around 3 p.m., the Sheriff’s Department announced four people were critically wounded and another person suffered minor injuries. One person, identified only as a man, was declared dead at the scene.
The dead man’s identity is being withheld pending notification of his family, but at about 8 p.m. Sunday, the OCSD released the genders and ages of those injured.
The victims, all of whom are of Asian descent, were four men and one woman, and they all sustained gunshot wounds.
The men are ages 66, 75, 82 and 92, and the woman is 86 years old.
Their conditions, however, remain unclear.
Providence Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo confirmed it was treating two patients “suffering from trauma associated with gunshots,” though the hospital declined to release their conditions.
A suspect was taken into custody and a weapon was also recovered at the scene, Sheriff’s officials said.
Undersheriff Jeff Hallock identified the suspect as an Asian man in his 60s who is not from the nearby area. Investigators are still working to establish a motive, though they did find two handguns at the scene.
The suspect’s identity is expected to be released after he’s booked into the Orange County Jail, the Sheriff’s Department said.
The guns were serialized, so they are not so-called ‘ghost guns,’ according to a spokesman from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. An “urgent trace” has been placed on the firearms, ATF officials said, which will allow agents to determine the first purchaser of the handguns.
The alleged shooter attacked during a lunch after the morning service at the church, Hallock said.
Showing “extraordinary heroism,” the church’s congregants ultimately overpowered the suspect and hogtied him with an extension cord until first responders arrived.
“I think it’s safe to say, had people not intervened, it could’ve been a lot worse,” Hallock said. “There were 30 to 40 people inside.”
A churchgoer told the Los Angeles Times that pastor Billy Chang initially hit the gunman with a chair when he was reloading his gun, then other churchgoers tackled the shooter.
Hallock said the crime scene was very large and investigators would remain on scene for several hours.
There were dozens of people inside the church at the time of the shooting, the Sheriff’s Department said, and detectives planned to interview more than 30 witnesses.
Local and federal authorities are also providing linguists and trauma crisis experts to help those who witnessed the attack.
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office released a statement Sunday afternoon that said it was monitoring the shooting 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,” the statement read.