LAGUNA WOODS, Calif. (AP) — One person was killed and four others seriously injured in a shooting Sunday afternoon at a Presbyterian church in a suburban Southern California community where the majority of residents are seniors, officials said. A suspect was in custody.
The shooting was reported just before 1:30 p.m. at the Geneva Presbyterian Church in the town of Laguna Woods, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department said on Twitter.
One man died at the scene and a fifth suffered minor injuries, officials said. All victims were adults.
Deputies arrested a suspect, an adult male, and seized a weapon, officials said.
About 30 people witnessed the violence, said Carrie Braun, a sheriff’s spokeswoman. The majority of churchgoers are of Taiwanese descent, Braun said.
Investigators looked at many factors, including whether the bloodshed could be a hate crime and whether the shooter was known to the congregation, Braun said.
The shooting erupted during a midday reception honoring a former pastor of a Taiwanese congregation that holds services in Geneva, according to a statement from the Presbytery of Los Ranchos, a church administrative agency.
“Please keep the leadership of the Taiwanese church and Geneva in your prayers as they care for those traumatized by this shooting,” Presbytery’s Tom Cramer said in a statement on Facebook.
More details were expected at a 5 p.m. sheriff’s department press briefing
Federal agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were at the scene. The FBI also sent agents to the scene to assist the sheriff.
Laguna Woods was established as a residential community for seniors and later became a town. More than 80% of the residents of the 18,000-inhabitant city about 80 kilometers southeast of Los Angeles are at least 65 years old.
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office said on Twitter that it was closely monitoring the situation.
“No one should have to be afraid to go to their place of worship. Our thoughts are with the victims, the community and everyone affected by this tragic event,” the tweet said.
The incident took place in an area with a cluster of places of worship, including Catholic, Lutheran and Methodist churches and a Jewish synagogue.
On its website, the Geneva Presbyterian Church describes its mission as “to remember, tell, and live the way of Jesus by being righteous, kind, and humble.”
“Everyone is welcome here. Really, we mean that! … Geneva aspires to be an inclusive church that worships, learns, connects, gives and serves together.”
The shooting came a day after an 18-year-old man shot dead ten people at a convenience store in Buffalo, New York.
“This is disturbing and disturbing news, especially less than a day after a mass shooting in Buffalo,” said US Rep. Katie Porter, whose district includes Laguna Woods. “This shouldn’t be our new normal. I will work hard to support the victims and their families.”
https://www.boston.com/news/national-news/2022/05/15/authorities-multiple-people-shot-at-california-church/ 1 killed, 5 injured in gunfight at California church