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1 dead, five wounded in California church shooting

Orange County Sheriff's Department deputies detained a person at the scene and have recovered a weapon.

A sign for the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, Calif., is seen on Sunday, May 15, 2022, after a fatal shooting. (Leonard Ortiz/The Orange County Register via AP)

LOS ANGELES (RNS) — One person is dead and five people were injured Sunday (May 15) in a shooting inside Geneva Presbyterian Church in the south Orange County city of Laguna Woods, authorities said.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department received calls just before 1:30 p.m. Pacific time, saying a shooting was underway on the 24000 block of El Toro Road.

The church is home to at least two congregations, including the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church, according to the church website. About 30-40 members of the Taiwanese congregation were in the church at the time of the shooting, Undersheriff Jeff Hallock told reporters.

The gunman opened fired at a lunch banquet following the morning service, Hallock said. He said a group of churchgoers “hogtied” him, according to Hallock, tying his legs with an extension cord. Two handguns were taken from the shooter before the deputies arrived.

“Churchgoers displayed exceptional heroism and bravery in intervening to stop the suspect,” said Hallock. 

The suspect has been identified as David Chou, 68, from Las Vegas, Nevada, and has been booked on one felony count of murder and five felony counts of attempted murder, the Sheriff’s Department said. The motive is not yet clear, nor whether the man has any connection to the church.

 

All victims were adults and were taken to the hospital with gunshot wounds, authorities said. One victim, identified as Dr. John Cheng, 52, died at the scene. Four were critically wounded, and one sustained minor injuries.

The injured victims — which included four men and one woman who were Asian — ranged in age from 66 to 92 years old. 

Laguna Woods spans about 3.1 square miles with more than 90% of its residents — an estimated 18,000 — living in the 55-and-older community of Laguna Woods Village.

The FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are assisting in the investigation.

Crime scene tape is stretched across an area at Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, Calif., Sunday, May 15, 2022, after a fatal shooting. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Crime scene tape is stretched across an area at Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, Calif., Sunday, May 15, 2022, after a fatal shooting. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)