California Churchgoers Halted Deadly Shooting By Detaining Suspect, Orange County Sheriff Says


One person was killed and four others were critically injured in a shooting at a church in Southern California on Sunday afternoon, according to local authorities—and a suspect was taken into custody after parishioners managed to subdue him and take away his weapons.

Key Facts

During a post-church service lunch banquet at around 1:30 p.m. local time, an unnamed male suspect opened fire at Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, Orange County Undersheriff Jeff Hallock said at a Sunday evening press conference.

The sheriff’s department says one person died at the scene of the shooting, four people were “critically wounded” and transported to a hospital in unknown condition, and one person suffered minor injuries.

Before authorities arrived, churchgoers appeared to hogtie the suspect’s legs with an extension cord and take his guns, in what Hallock called an act of “exceptional heroism” that likely prevented further violence.

Two firearms were recovered at the scene, according to Hallock.

What We Don’t Know

The suspect’s motive and exact target are unclear, authorities say, and it’s not known whether he has any connections to the church.

Crucial Quote

“No one should have to fear going to their place of worship,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office tweeted. “Our thoughts are with the victims, community, and all those impacted by this tragic event.”

Key Background

Located about 40 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles, Laguna Woods is a city of nearly 18,000 in Orange County. More than 80% of the city’s residents are seniors, with the vast majority living in Laguna Woods Village, a massive age-restricted community. Geneva Presbyterian Church is located next to a residential neighborhood and at the edge of a commercial district, and it describes itself online as an “inclusive congregation.”


The incident at a Laguna Woods church follows at least two other deadly shootings this weekend. Some 10 people were killed in what police described as a racially motivated hate crime at a supermarket in Buffalo on Saturday, and two people died in an altercation at a busy flea market in Houston earlier Sunday—though authorities in Houston’s Harris County said those wounded “were all likely participants in the altercation.” The United States has faced at least 199 mass shootings with four or more injuries or deaths so far this year, according to figures compiled by the Gun Violence Archive.