By Sharon Bernstein and Andrew Hay (Reuters) -Southern California authorities on Monday identified the suspect in a weekend shooting at a church luncheon as a 68-year-old Las Vegas man, saying he was in custody, charged with murder and attempted murder. The suspect, David Chou, opened fire on Sunday afternoon at Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna […]
California church shooter identified as Las Vegas man, 68
By Sharon Bernstein and Andrew Hay
(Reuters) -Southern California authorities on Monday identified the suspect in a weekend shooting at a church luncheon as a 68-year-old Las Vegas man, saying he was in custody, charged with murder and attempted murder.
The suspect, David Chou, opened fire on Sunday afternoon at Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, a community of mostly elderly residents. One person was killed and five others were wounded, four of them critically, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department said.
The shooting occurred during a luncheon honoring the former pastor of a Taiwanese church that shared space with the Geneva congregation, the Presbytery of Los Ranchos said on its Facebook page. About 30 to 40 people were in the church at the time.
It was unclear what the suspect’s motive was, who he intended to target or whether it was a hate-related crime, police said. All of the victims – whose names have not been released – were of Asian heritage. The suspect is also of Asian descent.
The wounded – four men ranging in age from 66 to 92 and an 86-year-old woman – were taken to hospitals for treatment, the sheriff’s department said. The age and gender of the dead person has not yet been released.
When the gunman opened fire, some of those attending the luncheon stopped the rampage by tackling the shooter and hog-tying him with an electrical cord, police said. Two handguns were found at the scene.
“That group of churchgoers displayed … exceptional heroism and bravery in intervening to stop the suspect. They undoubtedly prevented additional injuries and fatalities,” Orange County Undersheriff Jeff Hallock said Sunday.
The congregation had arranged a lunch reception for its former pastor, who had left United States and relocated in Taiwan, but was back in the United States visiting, Tom Cramer, leader of the Presbytery of Los Ranchos and a former pastor at the Geneva Presbyterian Church, said in an interview.
Church members and banquet attendees did not recognize the gunman, he said.
Laguna Woods is primarily made up of the retirement community of Laguna Woods Village, once known as Leisure World.
The Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church has been sharing premises with the Geneva Presbyterian Church for a decade, Cramer said on the congregation’s Facebook page.
It was at least the second mass shooting of the weekend in the United States, which has been plagued with gun violence in recent years. In Buffalo, New York, on Saturday, a white 18-year-old man opened fire at a supermarket in a mostly Black neighborhood, killing 10 and wounding three in what authorities described as a purely racist attack.
(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein in Saramento, California, Kanishka Singh in Washington and Andrew Hay in New Mexico; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)