Parishioners jumped into action Sunday after a gunman opened fire in a South California church, hog-tying the gunman with electrical cords after the pastor reportedly hit him over the head with a chair.
The deadly attack unfolded Sunday around 1:30 p.m., at the Taiwanese Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods.
Dispatch received call of a shooting inside Geneva Presbyterian Church at 1:26pm. Four victims have been critically wounded , one with minor injuries. All victims are adults and are enroute to the hospital. One victim is deceased at the scene.
— OC Sheriff, CA (@OCSheriff) May 15, 2022
Roughly 40 worshippers had gathered in the fellowship hall for a luncheon to welcome Pastor Billy Chang, who served the church for 20 years but left two years ago to go to Taiwan, according to the Associated Press (AP).
“Everyone had just finished lunch,” Jerry Chen, 72, said, according to the AP. “They were taking photos with Pastor Chang. I had just finished my lunch and went into the kitchen.”
That’s when the suspected gunman, whose name was not immediately released but is described by the AP as an elderly Asian man, allegedly opened fire on the group of parishioners, killing one and injuring five senior citizens. (RELATED: REPORT: Buffalo Shooter Investigated Previously For Earlier Threat)
Chen told the AP he peeked out of the kitchen and saw mayhem as worshippers began frantically running. Chen ran outside to call authorities and was later informed of what continued on inside the church.
Congregants told Chen as the gunman stopped to reload, Chang smacked him over the head with a chair while others grabbed his gun, according to the AP. The group then hog-tied the gunman with electrical cords, according to the report.
“It was amazing how brave [Chang] and the others were,” Chen reportedly said. “This is just so sad. I never, ever thought something like this would happen in my church, in my community.”
Orange County Undersheriff Jeff Hallock said the parishioners “displayed what we believe is exceptional heroism and bravery in intervening to stop the suspect,” according to the AP.
“They undoubtedly prevented additional injuries and fatalities,” Hallock said. “I think it’s safe to say that had people not intervened, it could have been much worse.”