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Dublin: 15°C Thursday 30 June 2022

Suspected gunman tied up by churchgoers after fatal shooting in California

Four others were critically injured in the incident, authorities said.

Police outside the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church yesterday evening.
Police outside the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church yesterday evening.
Image: Press Association

ONE PERSON WAS killed when a man opened fire at a southern California church before being stopped and tied up by parishioners in what an official called an act of “exceptional heroism and bravery”.

Four people were critically wounded by gunfire at Geneva Presbyterian Church in the city of Laguna Woods, 50 miles south east of Los Angeles, Orange County Sheriff’s Department officials said.

A sixth person had minor injuries but was not struck by bullets.

The suspect in the shooting, an Asian man in his 60s, was in custody and deputies recovered two handguns at the scene, undersheriff Jeff Hallock said.

A motive for the shooting was not immediately known but investigators did not believe the gunman lives in the community, he said.

The majority of those inside the church at the time were believed to be of Taiwanese descent, said Carrie Braun, a sheriff’s spokesperson.

Between 30 and 40 members of the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church were gathered for lunch after a morning church service at Geneva when gunfire erupted shortly before 1.30pm Pacific Daylight Time (9.30pm), officials said.

When deputies arrived, parishioners had the suspect tied-up and in custody

“That group of churchgoers displayed what we believe is exceptional heroism and bravery in intervening to stop the suspect. They undoubtedly prevented additional injuries and fatalities,” Hallock said.

“I think it’s safe to say that had people not intervened, it could have been much worse.”

All the victims were Asian American adults and the youngest of the victims is 66-years-old, Braun said.

The investigation was in its early stages, Hallock said.

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He said the many unanswered questions include whether the assailant attended the church service, if he was known to church members and how many shots were fired.

The shooting comes just a day after a shooting in Buffalo, New York where ten people were killed by an alleged white supremacist teenager in an act one official described as “domestic terrorism, pure and simple.”

The shooter, identified as 18-year-old Payton Gendron, was arrested at the scene, a grocery store in a predominately Black neighbourhood after police rushed to respond to emergency calls.

The shooter was wearing body armour, carried an assault rifle and live-streamed the attack, police said, adding that of the 10 dead and three wounded, 11 were African Americans.

Gendron had driven over 200 miles to the predominantly African American community in order to carry out the shooting. 

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