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Church Members Tackle, Hogtie Mass Shooter At California Church After 6 Shot

Laguna Woods, CA – A gunman murdered one person and critically wounded five others at a California church on Sunday afternoon before congregants tackled, disarmed, and hogtied him.

“That group of churchgoers displayed what we believe is exceptional heroism and bravery,” Orange County Undersheriff Jeff Hallock, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“It’s safe to say that had they not intervened this situation could have been much worse,” Undersheriff Hallock added.

The mass shooting occurred at about 1:26 p.m. on May 15 at Geneva Presbyterian Church, located in the 24000-block of El Toro Road in Laguna Woods.

About 40 church members of the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church, which holds services in the building, were having a buffet lunch after services, CBS News reported.

The Taiwanese congregation has met at that location for the past 10 years, the Los Angeles Times reported.

A law enforcement source said that gunman sealed the doors shut to stop parishioners from escaping his rampage.

Jerry Chen, 72, told the Los Angeles Times the congregation was taking pictures with a pastor who had just returned from a two-year trip to Taiwan when the shooting started.

“I heard the gun sounds,” Chen said. “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,” he told the Los Angeles Times.

Chen said the gunman stopped shooting to reload his gun and Pastor Billy Change hit him with a chair.

That was when other members of the church tackled the shooter, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Orange County sheriff’s deputies responded to the scene and found the gunman restrained.

“We believe a group of churchgoers detained him and hogtied his legs with an extension cord and confiscated at least two weapons from him,” Undersheriff Hallock said. “He was detained when deputies arrived.”

The gunman and all of his victims were Asian, KTLA recorded.

One victim died at the scene.

His name has not yet been released, CBS News reported.

Officials said four men, ages 66, 92, 82 and 75, and an 86-year-old woman sustained critical gunshot wounds, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Two of the victims were taken to Orange County Global Medical Center, two were taken to Providence Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, and one was transported to University of California, Irvine Medical Center in Orange, CBS News reported.

Undersheriff Hallock said the gunman was not from the local area.

The sheriff’s department identified 68-year-old David Chou of Las Vegas, Nevada as the gunman on Monday morning, KVVU reported.

Chou has been charged with one felony count of murder and five felony counts of attempted murder.

“At this time we do not know what the suspect’s motive may be or whether he had an intended target, or whether this was even a hate-related incident,” Undersheriff Hallock told reporters at a media briefing.

Deputies recovered two commercially-available guns at the scene, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Special Agent in Charge Stephen Galloway said both firearms had serial numbers and were not “ghost guns,” CBS News.

Agent Galloway said the ATF was conducting an “emergency trace on the recovered firearms.”

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FB) Assistant Director in Charge Kristi Johnson said the agency was working “very hard to determine the motive” for the gunman’s shooting spree, CBS News reported.

Dir. Johnson said linguists were brought into assist law enforcement in translating interviews with the witnesses.

“Today is a very dark day for the people of Laguna Woods and Orange County,” Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett said. “Our thoughts and prayers go to all those affected by this senseless tragedy – just a day after the tragic and hate-filled actions that led to the senseless deaths of Americans at the Tops Friendly Markets in Buffalo, New York. We too are now dealing with people shot in their place of worship.”

“To the church congregants impacted by the violence that took place here today: We are here for you, and we will seek justice for you,” Bartlett continued.

“To the perpetrator of such heinous acts, our county will work to ensure justice for the victims,” she added.

Written by
Sandy Malone

Managing Editor - Twitter/@SandyMalone_ - Prior to joining The Police Tribune, Sandy wrote the Politics.Net column for the Wall Street Journal and was managing editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. More recently, she was an internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast (BRIDES), The Huffington Post, and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is married to a retired police captain and former SWAT commander.

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Written by Sandy Malone


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