February 21, 2024

At least one person is dead and four people critically wounded after a shooting inside a church in Orange County, California, on Sunday, police said. A suspect is in custody, police said Sunday afternoon, and two handguns were recovered from the scene. 

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office tweeted Sunday afternoon that they received a call of gunfire at the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods shortly before 1:30 p.m. PT. Police said it appeared to be a lunch banquet following the morning service, with about 30 to 40 people in attendance. 

Police said in a press conference Sunday afternoon that church-goers detained the suspect after he opened fire and hog-tied him with extension cords, taking at least two weapons. Both weapons were handguns, and authorities said they were commercially-made weapons. 

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

California Church Shooting
Crime scene tape is stretched across an area at Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, Calif., Sunday, May 15, 2022, after a fatal shooting.

Damian Dovarganes / AP

The suspect was not injured during the incident. Police are investigating if he has a connection to the church or if it is a hate-related incident, Hallock said. 

Police said the victims were all adults. One person was declared dead at the scene, four were critically wounded and one suffered minor injuries, the sheriff’s office said.

The FBI is assisting in the investigation.

According to CBS Los Angeles, Laguna Woods is a community comprised primarily of persons considered to be senior citizens, with 82% of residents reportedly over the age of 65, as detailed by the United States Census Bureau.  

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