An Asian man in his 60’s walked into a Laguna Woods Church fellowship hall on Sunday afternoon and later opened fire. One person died at the scene, 4 others were injured. The California congregation and its former pastor immediately moved to stop him – the former pastor threw a chair at the man as he attempted to reload his gun – other members disarmed him and hog-tied him until police arrived. Their actions stopped further carnage. The Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church meets at the Geneva Presbyterian Church. Two handguns were recovered at the scene, according to the Sheriff.
UPDATE: The suspect has been identified as 68 year old David Chou.
Former pastor of the Laguna Woods church, Billy Chang, was visiting for the first time since he moved to Taiwan two years ago. He had served at the church for about 20 years and is a beloved figure among the members. The Congregation was having a luncheon in his honor in the fellowship hall, and taking pictures of themselves with him. There were approximately 40 people in the church at the time.
I’m here in Laguna Woods reporting for @washingtonpost on the shooting at a Presbyterian church. 1 dead, 4 critical, 1 with minor injuries. Gunman is Asian male in his 60s. Happened during a luncheon after service. Parishioners hogtied him with an electrical cord, per @OCSheriff. pic.twitter.com/fqxoHLz8qG
— Meghann Cuniff (@meghanncuniff) May 16, 2022
“Exceptional Heroism and Bravery”
That group of churchgoers displayed what we believe is exceptional heroism and bravery in intervening to stop the suspect. They undoubtedly prevented additional injuries and fatalities. I think it’s safe to say that had people not intervened, it could have been much worse.
Orange County Sheriff Jeff Hallock
Twitter user Michelle Ko remarked that the church elders are “badasses.”
“Amidst this tragedy I do want to point out that our elders…are badasses. “After the shots rang out, the pastor picked up a chair and hit the gunman with it. Then other members of the congregation grabbed him” disarmed him & hogtied him.”
Amidst this tragedy I do want to point out that our elders…are badasses.
“After the shots rang out, the pastor picked up a chair and hit the gunman with it.Then other members of the congregation grabbed him” disarmed him & hogtied him. https://t.co/50B4ht2sor
— Michelle Ko (@michelleko2d) May 16, 2022
The Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church is primarily made up of older, highly educated Taiwanese immigrants, according to an interview of Jerry Chen, who was in attendance, to KTAR.
Jerry Chen had just stepped into the kitchen of his church’s fellowship hall around 1:30 p.m. Sunday when he heard the gunshots.
Chen, 72, a longtime congregant at Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, peeked around the corner and saw church members screaming, running and ducking under tables.
“I knew someone was shooting,” he said. “I was very, very scared. I ran out the kitchen door to call 9-1-1. “
Officials said the shooting ended after the gunman killed one man and wounded five senior citizens before worshippers hog-tied his legs with an electrical cord until deputies arrived. Four of the five people wounded suffered critical gunshot injuries.
Churches and synagogues can no longer afford to be passivist. At least some members of any congregation need to be armed – or at least be prepared and able to react in case of danger. Members of this congregation faced a man with a gun and took him down.
Their generation- and this group within this generation- envisioned and fought for democracy while they & their loved ones were persecuted, imprisoned & killed. They don’t f* around.
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