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One person killed, 4 others wounded in California church shooting

by The Associated Press | May 15, 2022 at 6:21 p.m.
A firetruck is seen outside the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, Calif., on Sunday, May 15, 2022 after a fatal shooting. (Leonard Ortiz/The Orange County Register via AP)

LAGUNA WOODS, Calif. — One person was killed and four others were critically wounded 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 shortly before 1:30 p.m. at Geneva Presbyterian Church in the city of Laguna Woods, the Orange County sheriff’s office said on Twitter.

A fifth injured person suffered minor injuries, officials said. All the victims were adults.

Deputies detained a suspect, an adult male, and recovered a weapon at the scene, officials said. It wasn’t immediately clear where inside the church the shooting happened.

About 30 people witnessed the violence, said Carrie Braun, a sheriff’s spokesperson. The majority of those inside the church are believed to be of Taiwanese descent, Braun said.

Investigators were looking at many factors, including whether the bloodshed could be a hate crime and whether the gunman was known to the church community, she said.

More details were expected from a sheriff’s department news conference scheduled for 5 p.m.

Federal agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were responding to the scene. The FBI was also sending agents to the scene to assist the sheriff.

Laguna Woods was built as a senior living community and later became a city. More than 80% of residents in the city of 18,000 people about 50 miles southeast of Los Angeles are at least 65.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office said on Twitter that he was closely monitoring the situation.

“No one should have to fear going to their place of worship. Our thoughts are with the victims, community, and all those impacted by this tragic event,” the tweet said.

The incident occurred in an area with a cluster of houses of worship, including Catholic, Lutheran and Methodist churches and a Jewish synagogue.

On its website, Geneva Presbyterian Church describes its mission as “to remember, tell, and live the way of Jesus by being just, kind, and humble.”

“All are welcome here. Really, we mean that! … Geneva aspires to be an inclusive congregation worshipping, learning, connecting, giving and serving together.”

The shooting came a day after an 18-year-old man shot and killed 10 people at a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y.

“This is upsetting and disturbing news, especially less than a day after a mass shooting in Buffalo,” said U.S. Rep. Katie Porter, whose district includes Laguna Woods. “This should not be our new normal. I will work hard to support the victims and their families.”

5:06 p.m.: One person killed, 4 others wounded in California church shooting

LAGUNA WOODS, Calif. — One person was killed and four others were critically wounded in a shooting Sunday at a Southern California church, authorities said.

The shooting happened at Geneva Presbyterian Church in the city of Laguna Woods, the Orange County sheriff’s office said on Twitter.

Deputies detained one person and recovered a weapon, the office said.

A fifth injured person suffered minor injuries, officials said.

All the victims were adults.

4:38 p.m.: Authorities: Multiple people shot at California church

LAGUNA WOODS, Calif. — Multiple people were shot Sunday at a church in Southern California, authorities said.

The shooting happened at an unnamed church on the 24000 block of El Toro Road in the city of Laguna Woods, the Orange County sheriff’s office said on Twitter.

“We have detained one person and have recovered a weapon that may be involved,” the office said.

No further details were immediately available.

Laguna Woods is a city of about 16,000 people located 50 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles. Many of the residents live at Laguna Woods Village, a sprawling 55-and-over community that dates back to the 1960s.

This story is developing.

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