Worshippers ‘hogtied’ gunman who killed one and injured five at Laguna Woods church in California

Police describe suspect as Asian man in his 60s without apparent connection to church

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Monday 16 May 2022 05:48
Scenes outside the Calfiornia church tageted by shooting

The gunman who opened fire in a Southern California church on Sunday was “hogtied” with an extension cord by parishioners after he killed one person and injured five others, according to police.

He was still tied up when police arrived.

“Had people not intervened , it could’ve been much worse,” Orange County undersheriff Jeff Hallock said at a press conference on Sunday. “There were 30 to 40 people in the church.”

Four of those injured are in a critical condition at area hospitals.

Emergency dispatchers received calls of a shooting inside Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods at 1.26pm PT (9.26 am BST) on 15 May, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.

The city, home to many retirees, is about 50 miles southeast of Los Angeles.

Police arrived and arrested a suspect who had been armed with two hand guns. They described him at a news conference as an Asian man in his 60s, who lacked an apparent connection to the church.

He arrived in the building as those inside, many of whom are Taiwanese, were hosting a banquet, police added.

The church hosts services for the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church.

Officials have not yet determined a motive for the shooting, or discovered evidence that the violence was hate-based, as was Saturday’s mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York.

A law enforcement source told The Los Angeles Times the man is 68 and from Las Vegas.

In addition to local police, the LA offices of the FBI and ATF are assisting with the investigation.

An ATF agent said on Sunday that the agency had put an “emergency” trace on the weapons used in the shooting, which were “commercially made” and contained legible serial numbers.

Police are also looking through the large church compound for evidence.

Linguists have been brought on scene to assist with the case.

Leaders lamented the violence at the church, coming just a day after 10 were killed in the mass shooting in New York.

“Today is a very dark day for the people of Laguna Woods and Orange County,” said Lisa Bartlett of the Orange County Board of Supervisors. “We too are now dealing with people shot.”

California US Rep Katie Porter, who represents a swath of Orange County in Congress, said in the wake of shootings in Laguna Woods and Buffalo, shootings have become “a nationwide epidemic”.

“We need elected officials across the country and at every level of government to step up and lead—not just think and pray,” she said.

Community members said they were shocked such violence had come in their community.

“I could not even imagine something like this could happen here,” Charlotte Hsieh, an organist at the church who left about an hour-and-a-half before the shooting started, told The New York Times. “I’m just as shocked as anybody.”

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