One person has died and four others are critically injured after a shooting at a church in California on Sunday, local police say.
Orange County deputies responded after dispatch received a call at 1:26 p.m. about a shooting inside the Geneva Presbyterian Church.
“This is a very tragic incident for the victims, their families and this entire community,” Orange County undersheriff, Jeff Hallock, said during a press conference on Sunday.
The church is located on the 24000 block of El Toro Road in Laguna Woods, a community in Southern California of about 18,000 people roughly 50 miles (80 kilometres) southeast of Los Angeles.
Another victim is suffering minor injuries. Police did not know the status of the four critically injured
victims during their press conference Sunday evening.
The incident happened at a lunch banquet following a service, police said.
The reception was honouring a former pastor of the Taiwanese congregation that nests at the Geneva Presbyterian Church, according to a post from the Presbytery of Los Ranchos, a church administrative group.
“Please keep the leadership of the Taiwanese congregation and Geneva in your prayers as they care for those tramatized by this shooting,” presbytery leader Tom Cramer said.
By the time deputies arrived, the suspect’s legs were tied up with an extension cord. Police believe churchgoers detained him, tied his legs, and confiscated at least two weapons from him.
There were between 30 to 40 people inside the church at the time of the shooting, police said.
A majority of those inside the church are believed to be of Taiwanese descent, according to Carrie Braun, a sheriff’s spokesperson.
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.
Police detained the suspect at the scene and have recovered two guns that may have been involved in the shooting.
He’s believed to be an Asian male in his 60s. He is also believed to be from outside of the community, according to police
“Investigators are working to determine his city of residence and whether he has any connection to this church or the congregation,” Hallock said.
The deceased victim died on the scene. All victims are adults and were transported to hospital.
Fire and rescue personnel were at the scene, treating and transporting multiple patients to the hospital, the Orange County Fire Authority said.
Police said they’re unsure of the motive of the attack. They also don’t know whether the suspect had a target or if the incident was hate-related.
“Obviously motive is always the question which determines the involvement at the federal level,” said Kristi Johnson, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office, which has jurisdiction in the area.
“At this time we are working very hard to determine the motive,” she said.
Two people were also killed on Sunday after a shooting at a bustling Houston flee market, authorities said. Three others were also taken to the hospital.
The shooting erupted from an “altercation” involving at least two guns and all five of the people, according to Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez.
He said no “innocent bystanders” were injured.
Update 2: a busy Sunday at the flea market w thousands of patrons when this incident went down. For now, it appears the wounded were all likely participants in the altercation, no innocent bystanders injured as far as we know. At least 2 pistols recovered, multiple shots fired. https://t.co/pzsNIQMQfe
— Ed Gonzalez (@SheriffEd_HCSO) May 15, 2022
Laguna Woods was built as a senior living community and later became a city. More than 80% of residents in the city are at least 65.
Thousands of people were shopping at the the market 22 kilometres north of Houston’s downtown when the shooting began around 1 p.m. Sunday, Gonzalez said on Twitter.
Both incidents follow the mass shooting that killed at least ten people at a Tops supermarket in Buffalo on Saturday.
The incident is being investigated as both a hate crime and a case of racially motivated violent extremism, according to law enforcement.
Out of the 13 victims, 11 were Black and two were white while the shooter is white, police said.
— With files from Reuters and The Associated Press
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