ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. (KTLA) – One person was killed and another four people were critically injured Sunday in a shooting at Geneva Presbyterian Church in the Southern California city of Laguna Woods.
A fifth person also suffered minor injuries, officials said.
The shooting happened around 1:30 p.m. at the church on the 24000 block El Toro Road, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.
The department confirmed one suspect was taken into custody. The suspect was described as an Asian man in his 60s by the sheriff’s department. He was not injured before being taken into custody.
Firefighters and paramedics were called to the scene to transport “multiple patients,” the Orange County Fire Authority said in a tweet. In an evening press conference, the sheriff’s department said it did not have an update on the victims’ condition.
The gunfire erupted during a lunch reception honoring a former pastor of a Taiwanese congregation that has services at Geneva, according to a statement from the Presbytery of Los Ranchos, a church administrative body. About 30 people witnessed the violence, said Carrie Braun, a sheriff’s spokesperson.
The majority of those inside the church are believed to be of Taiwanese descent, Braun said.
Orange County Undersheriff Jeff Hallock said churchgoers’ heroism prevented other injuries. By the time police arrived, congregants had hogtied and restrained the shooter, the undersheriff said.
“Had people not intervened, it could have been much worse,” said Hallock.
Two handguns were also recovered at the scene, officials said. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) was doing an “emergency trace” on the recovered weapons, a spokesperson said Sunday.
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office said on Twitter that he was closely monitoring the situation.
“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.
Laguna Woods was built as a senior living community and later became a city. More than 80% of residents in the city of 18,000 people about 50 miles southeast of Los Angeles are at least 65.
The incident occurred in an area with a cluster of houses of worship, including Catholic, Lutheran and Methodist churches and a Jewish synagogue.
The FBI said Sunday evening it was still investigating to determine a motive.
Investigators were looking at many factors, including whether the bloodshed could be a hate crime and whether the gunman was known to the church community, Braun said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.