LAGUNA WOODS, Calif. -- A man opened fire during a lunchtime reception at a Southern California church on Sunday, killing one person and wounding five senior citizens before being stopped and handcuffed by parishioners in what a sheriff's officer called "extraordinary" heroism and bravery ."
Four of the five wounded suffered serious gunshot wounds during the violence at Geneva Presbyterian Church in the town of Laguna Woods, Orange County Sheriff's Department officials said.
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 wasn't immediately known, but investigators don't believe the shooter lives in the community, he said.
Between 30 and 40 members of the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church were gathered for lunch after a morning service in Geneva when gunfire erupted just before 1:30 p.m., officials said. When MPs arrived, parishioners had tied the shooter to the pig and taken him into custody.
"This group of churchgoers showed what we believe to be extraordinary heroism and courage when they stepped in to stop the suspect. They undoubtedly prevented further injuries and fatalities," Hallock said. "I think it's safe to say that if people hadn't intervened, it could have been a lot worse."
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The injured victims were four Asian men, ages 66, 75, 82 and 92, and an 86-year-old Asian woman, the sheriff's department said. Authorities originally said only four of the five surviving victims were shot.
Information about the killed person was not released immediately.
The investigation is still in its early stages, Hallock said. He said the many unanswered questions were whether the attacker attended the service, whether he was known to church members and how many shots were fired.
A former pastor of the Taiwanese congregation was honored at the afternoon lunch reception, according to a statement from the presbytery of Los Ranchos, a church administrative agency.
Federal agents from the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives responded. 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 city of 18,000 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're serious! ... 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."