Published On: Sun, May 15th, 2022

One dead, five injured, suspect detained in shooting during Asian church service

One person was dead and five others were injured in a shooting during a meeting of Asian churchgoers in Southern California Sunday, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department said.

The attack was reported at Geneva Presbyterian Church at 1:26 p.m. in the retirement city of Laguna Woods, the department said. Four victims suffered critical injuries, it said.

The body of the deceased was discovered at the scene, sheriff’s officials said, while all the surviving victims, including a person with minor injuries, were hospitalized, the said.

Sheriff’s officials said a group belonging to a Taiwanese church was at the facility when gunfire broke out. Motive was not revealed, and it was not clear if the background of congregants was related to the attack.

The Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church, a name that refers to a nearby city, was scheduled to meet at the facility at 10 a.m., according to its website.

The Orange County Fire Authority didn’t immediately respond to a request for information.

On Twitter the agency said it was “treating and transporting multiple patients.”

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives said agents based in Los Angeles were responding to Laguna Woods to assist sheriff’s investigators.

Laguna Woods and Laguna Woods Village are relatively exclusive communities for people 55 and older and their companions or loved ones. Large parts of it, including the village, are gated.

The city is composed of single-family homes, town houses and apartment-style residences. It opened as Leisure World in 1964. It became the county’s 32nd city in 1999.

Authorities asked people to avoid the area, noting that multiple roads were closed.

The Geneva church streamed and televised a version of its Sunday services. They were archived on Facebook.

The Rev. Ryan Romberg presided, and spoke on the theme, “Celebrating the Calling.”

“All are welcome,” he said in his opening remarks.

He later urged congregants to embrace those of different backgrounds and beliefs. “What will loving that person do?” Romberg said.

“It might just change the world for the better, the way Christians have done for centuries,” he said.

On Friday police in Dallas said they were looking for a suspect who might be targeting people of Asian background in a series of shootings. The last of three such attacks injured three women from South Korea, officials said.

Police Chief Eddie Garcia said the department’s inquiry was a hate crime investigation. Attacks against Asian Americans have skyrocketed in recent years.

The sheriff’s department urged patience as its deputies worked at the scene.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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