Investigators are trying to determine why a resident of a Korean religious retreat that helps the homeless allegedly went on a deadly rampage targeting his fellow volunteers.
Police said John Chong, 69, shot one woman dead Tuesday night and wounded her husband before being disarmed during a struggle with another couple.
Chong had lived at the Kkottongnae Retreat Camp for about a year as a volunteer after moving from the Los Angeles suburb of Lynwood. The two couples attacked also were resident volunteers.
Detectives, having trouble piecing together exactly what happened because many witnesses speak only Korean, were unable to immediately determine a motive.
"We have no evidence that this was a domestic dispute. We do not have a motive or reason for this incident," sheriff's Sgt. Michael Lujan said Wednesday.
The camp, about 85 miles southeast of Los Angeles, is marked by a simple white sign along a two-lane road that winds through the hills of the Temecula wine country. The retreat, which provides food and aid to the homeless, is run by Korean nuns.
Chong is a retired professional welder who did maintenance at the retreat and was always welding, building walls, digging holes and pouring concrete, said Chuck Owens, 59, who lives nearby and saw him Tuesday.
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"He came up and he seemed normal," Owens said. "He came up for a while and we sat around for a while. I noticed nothing."
Chong is unmarried and has no children, he said.
Investigators determined that Chong, who lived alone in a bungalow, had gone to the first couple's bungalow and shot the woman once in the head with a .32-caliber revolver, killing her instantly, Lujan said. Her husband was then shot in the torso.
Chong then went to a second bungalow about 300 yards away and attempted to shoot the second couple, but they fought him off in what appeared to be a violent and extensive fistfight, Lujan said. Two shots were discharged from the revolver during the brawl, but no one was hit.
"From all accounts it was hand to hand," Lujan said. "There was physical evidence that a significant altercation had occurred. We're talking turned-over furniture, damage to the door, damage to furnishings and fixtures."
Chong was hospitalized in serious condition with trauma to his face and remained unconscious. No relatives had been located.
The Sheriff's Department identified the dead woman as Chuneui Yun, 58. Her wounded husband, Jong Pil Yun, was hospitalized in serious condition.
"They are very faithful. They devote themselves to God. They are very nice people and I couldn't believe this happened," said Victor Nam, 59, of Diamond Bar, who arrived at the scene.
The couple hurt in the fistfight also were hospitalized, though their injuries were not serious, sheriff's Capt. Mitchell Alm said. Their names were not released.
The area is part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Bernardino. Bishop Gerald Barnes asked for prayer for the victims. "In these troubling times when we are seeing so many acts of senseless violence, we must hold God's peace and grace in our hearts and ask for his strength to bear these tragedies," he said in a statement.
Lujan said about 100 people were staying on the retreat property, but he wasn't sure how many were residents and how many were visitors.
The retreat has eight or 10 bungalows spread across three or four acres. The retreat also has hookups for recreational vehicles, a lecture room, a prayer room and a conference room.
On Wednesday, people trying to get to the retreat were turned away by yellow police tape and sheriff's deputies guarding the entrance.
The retreat is one of four U.S. branches of the Kkottongnae Brothers and Sisters of Jesus, a Roman Catholic organization dedicated to serving the poor and homeless. It was founded in the city of Cheongju, South Korea, by Father Oh Woong Jin in 1976.
Kkottongnae means "flower village" in Korean.
The camp will be closed for the next month "as we come to terms with Tuesday's events," said a statement from Sister Thaddeus Suh, community supervisor for the Congregation of the Sisters of Jesus, a Korean order that operates the retreat.