A gun attack was launched on a southern California church, killing one person and wounding five others before churchgoers detained the suspect and hog-tied him in what officials called an act of “exceptional heroism.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department confirmed this incident on Twitter where he said the shooting occurred before 1:30pm on Sunday (20:30 GMT) at the Geneva Presbyterian Church located in the town of Laguna Woods, about 80 kilometres (50 miles) southeast of Los Angeles, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department said on Twitter.

Al Jazeera reports that a man was killed at the scene and four others were critically injured, while a fifth injured person suffered minor injuries.

The suspect, an unidentified man in his 60s, is now in police custody.

Jeff Hallock, the Undersheriff for Orange Country, said when deputies arrived, the parishioners had the suspected gunman hog-tied and about 30 to 40 people were in the church when the shooting occurred.

He also confirmed that two handguns were found at the crime scene.

He said, “That group of churchgoers displayed … exceptional heroism and bravery in intervening to stop the suspect. They undoubtedly prevented additional injuries and fatalities."

Hallock said that authorities believe the suspect does not live in the area, but could not say whether the assailant attended the church service, if he was known to church members and how many shots were fired.

He said, "At this time, we do not know what the suspect’s motive may be or whether he had an intended target, or whether this is even a hate-related incident."

Reacting to the incident, the presbytery’s Tom Cramer said in a statement on Facebook, “Please keep the leadership of the Taiwanese congregation and Geneva in your prayers as they care for those traumatized by this shooting."

Carrie Braun, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office, confirmed that the majority of those inside the church are believed to be of Taiwanese descent and said that there is an ongoing investigation to examine many factors, including whether the bloodshed could be a hate crime.

Federal agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were responding to the scene. The FBI was also sending agents to the scene to assist the sheriff.

California Governor Gavin Newsom’s office said on Twitter that he was closely monitoring the situation.

“No one should have to fear going to their place of worship. Our thoughts are with the victims, community, and all those impacted by this tragic event,” the tweet said

The shooting came a day after an 18-year-old white gunman opened fire at a supermarket in a black neighbourhood in Buffalo, New York state, killing 10 people.

“This is upsetting and disturbing news, especially less than a day after a mass shooting in Buffalo,” tweeted Democratic Congresswoman Katie Porter, who represents Orange County in Washington.

Laguna Woods was built as a senior living community and later became a city. More than 80 percent of residents in the city of 18,000 people are at least 65.

The shooting throws the spotlight on mass shootings that have become a sadly familiar scene across the US.

 

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