Jerry Chen, A pastor who handled the situation, hit the gunman on the head with a chair.
Laguna Woods, Calif. (US)- During a lunch reception at a Southern California church, a man opened fire, killing one person and injuring five senior citizens. A pastor who handled the situation hit the gunman on the head with a chair, and parishioners hog-tied him with electrical cords.
When he heard the gunshots, Jerry Chen was entering the fellowship hall kitchen of his church around 1:30 p.m Sunday.
Chen, 72, a longtime member of Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, peered around the corner and noticed churchgoers screaming, running, and ducking under tables.
According to officials, the shooting ended after the gunman killed one man and injured five senior citizens. Then worshippers hog-tied his legs with an electrical cord until deputies arrived. Gunshots critically wounded four of the five people injured. The motive behind the shooting is unknown. Investigators believe the gunman was an Asian man in his 60s, not familiar with this area.
I was shocked, Chen said. He couldn’t tell the operator where he was.
“I had to ask someone else for the address,” he said.
Chen said about 40 congregants had gathered in the fellowship hall for a luncheon after morning service to welcome their former Pastor Billy Chang. The latter had served the church for 20 years and was a beloved and respected community member. Chang retired two years ago and moved back to Taiwan. This was his first time around stateside, Chen said.
“Everyone had just finished lunch,” he said. “They were taking photos with Pastor Chang. I had just finished my lunch and went into the kitchen.”
Between, he heard the gunshots and ran out.
Chen stated that he learned the details of what happened inside from others shortly after he came out. , After Pastor Chang hit him on the head with a chair, the gunman stopped to reload while others rushed to grab his gun. Meanwhile, they subdued and tied him up.
“It was amazing how brave (Chang) and the others were. But it is just so sad. I never, ever thought something like this would happen in my church, in my community.”
Chen said most of the church’s members are elderly, highly educated Taiwanese immigrants.
“We’re mostly retirees, and the average age of our church is 80,”.
Orange County Undersheriff Jeff Hallock praised the parishioners’ quick work detaining the gunman.
“That group of churchgoers displayed what we believe is exceptional heroism and bravery in intervening to stop the suspect. And prevented additional injuries and fatalities,” Hallock said. “I think it’s safe to say that had people not intervened, and it could have been much worse.”
The shooting occurred the day after an 18-year-old man shot and killed ten people at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket.
Laguna Woods began as a senior living community and grew into a city.
The incident occurred near several places of worship, including Catholic, Lutheran, and Methodist churches and a Jewish synagogue.
Hallock stated that the investigation was in its early stages. He said many questions remain unanswered, including whether the assailant attended the church service, if he was known to church members, and how many shots were fired.
According to Carrie Braun, a sheriff’s spokesperson, most of those inside the church at the time were of Taiwanese descent.
According to the sheriff’s department, four Asian men aged 66, 75, 82, and 92 and an 86-year-old Asian woman were shot. Initially, authorities stated that only four of the five surviving victims had been shot.
Officials did not immediately reveal any details about the alleged shooter.
According to a statement from the Presbytery of Los Ranchos, a church administrative body, the afternoon lunch reception was to honour a former pastor of the Taiwanese congregation.
“Please keep the leadership of the Taiwanese congregation and Geneva in your prayers as they care for those traumatised by this shooting,” the clergy’s Tom Cramer said in a statement on Facebook.
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office said that he was closely monitoring the situation on Twitter.
“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 tweet said.
On its website, Geneva Presbyterian Church describes its mission as “to remember, tell, and live the way of Jesus by being just, kind, and humble.”
“All are welcome here. We mean that! Geneva aspires to be an inclusive congregation worshipping, learning, connecting, giving and serving together.”
Violence in houses of worship includes the deadliest shooting inside a church, which occurred in 2017 in Sutherland Springs, Texas when a gunman opened fire during a Sunday service at First Baptist Church and killed more than two dozen people.
In 2015, Dylann Roof fired dozens of bullets during the closing prayer of a 2015 Bible study session at Charleston’s Mother Emanuel AME Church in South Carolina. Nine members of the Black congregation were killed in the racist violence, and Roof became the first person in the U.S. sentenced to death for a federal hate crime. His appeal remains before the Supreme Court.