Residents of Laguna Woods are reeling after a celebratory lunch for a former pastor at Geneva Presbyterian Church turned tragic and frightening, when a gunman opened fire on a group of churchgoers Sunday afternoon.
One of those parishioners died. Another five were injured, four critically and one with minor injuries.
Those victims, who were 66, 75, 82, 86 and 92 years old, according to the OC Sheriff's Department, were transported to local hospitals with gunshot wounds.
But according to authorities, it was the heroism and bravery of other members of the Taiwanese congregation that helped prevent further massacre.
"We believe a group of churchgoers detained him, and hogtied his legs with an extension cord, and confiscated at least two weapons from him," said Orange County Undersheriff Jeff Hallock, during a Sunday evening press conference. "That group of churchgoers displayed what we believe is exceptional heroism and bravery in intervening to stop the suspect. They undoubtedly prevented additional injuries and fatalities."
Images: Laguna Woods Church Shooting Leaves 1 Dead, 5 Hurt
The congregation had gathered for a Sunday morning service, and they were heading into a lunch banquet to celebrate a former pastor, who is visiting from Taiwan.
Yorba Linda Councilwoman Peggy Huang grew up in the Geneva Presbyterian Church community, and though she was not in the church when the shooting occurred, she spoke to members of the congregation in the wake of the shooting. She shared what they told her with NBC4.
As members walked in, some of them spotted a man in his 60s, acting strange and carrying newspapers, Huang said. No one in the small, tight-knit congregation knew him.
Witnesses say he then began locking the doors, and moments later, the first shots were fired, Huang said.
Witnesses also told Huang that the pastor threw a chair at the gunman after he opened fire. The gunman then dropped his weapon.
That's when other parishioners tackled the shooter to the ground, hog-tied him and held him down until authorities arrived.
"It's just amazing," Huang said. "You know, we called our grandparents "a-gong" and "āmā," [the Taiwanese words for "grandpa" and "grandma"], and these "a-gong"s and "āmā"s in their 70s and 80s are just amazing, amazing people, to have that clear sense of mind to take this guy down," she said.
The five shooting victims are in critical condition at local hospitals as of Monday morning.
The Orange County Sheriff's Department is leading the investigation, alongside FBI agents who are in the area gathering information.
So far, two weapons have been recovered.
The motive for the shooting is still unknown.