A man in his late 60s has been arrested for killing one churchgoer and wounding five others while opening fire at a church in Laguna Woods, California.
The fatal shooting, which left four of the five wounded victims with critical injuries, occurred at the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church during a lunch banquet held to commemorate a former pastor visiting from Taiwan.
David Wenwei Chou, 68, reportedly started firing before 1:30 p.m. Congregation members tackled him, hog-tied him with an extension cord and took two handguns from him.
“I heard the gun sounds,” congregant Jerry Chen, who was in a nearby church kitchen, told the Los Angeles Times. “Then I heard two or three more gunshots. He was just randomly shooting. I saw some people fall down or go under the table. I knew something was wrong. I called 911.”
The other victims include four men — aged 66, 75, 82 and 92 — and an 86-year-old woman, all of Asian descent. A sixth person was also reported to have sustained minor injuries.
“That group of churchgoers displayed what we believe is exceptional heroism and bravery,” Undersheriff Jeff Hallock told the Times. “It’s safe to say that had they not intervened this situation could have been much worse.”
The sheriff’s department is reportedly set to interview over 30 witnesses. Linguists and trauma crisis experts will be present to help them process the incident.
“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,” Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office tweeted on Sunday.
In response to the incident, the government of Taiwan’s Economic and Cultural Office in Los Angeles has reportedly set forth emergency plans.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs sends our deepest condolences to the victims and their families,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Joanne Ou said. “We will keep in touch with the family members of the victims to understand their needs, and provide all necessary help.”
Chou, a Las Vegas resident, was booked into the Orange County Intake Release Center on one count of murder and five counts of attempted murder. His bail was set to $1 million.