Motive for California church shooting still cloudy

AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

Most of the media attention this weekend was on the mass shooting that took place at a grocery store outside of Buffalo, New York, where multiple people were killed or injured by an 18-year-old with a history of both racial bias and mental instability. Less attention has been paid to another mass shooting on the other side of the country which took place the following day. At the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, California, located in Orange County, a man walked into the church while a lunch reception was being held to honor a visit by a former pastor. He pulled out two handguns and opened fire, killing one person and wounding five others. All of the victims were senior citizens. But in an amazing act of resilience, some of the congregants quickly moved to wrestle the shooter to the ground, disarm him, and tie him up with electrical cords until the police arrived. If not for their fast action, the results could easily have been even worse. (Associated Press)

A man opened fire during a lunch reception at a Southern California church on Sunday, killing one person and wounding five senior citizens before being stopped and hog-tied by parishioners in what a sheriff’s official called an act of “exceptional heroism and bravery.”

Four of the five people wounded suffered critical gunshot injuries during the violence at Geneva Presbyterian Church in the city of Laguna Woods, Orange County Sheriff’s Department officials said.

The suspect in the shooting, an Asian man in his 60s, was in custody and deputies recovered two handguns at the scene, Undersheriff Jeff Hallock said. A motive for the shooting wasn’t immediately known but investigators don’t believe the gunman lives in the community, he said.

An investigation is ongoing with no clear indication of what the motive for the attack might have been. Thinking of this as a potential race-based attack can’t be ruled out entirely but initial reports make it seem unlikely. The pastor of the church describes the congregation as being composed almost entirely of people from the community who are of Taiwanese descent. Nearly all are senior citizens, with the average age of the congregation being near 80. With all of the attacks we’ve seen on Asians in recent years, that might raise a red flag, but the shooter was described as “an Asian man in his 60s.”

Another possibility that immediately jumped to mind was that this could be an early indicator of the “summer of rage” being planned by leftist activists who are angry about the potential fall of Roe v. Wade. Operatives with the group “Ruth Sent Us” have already been vandalizing and disrupting churches, apparently believing that all religious people must be responsible for opposing abortions. But there didn’t seem to be any reference to abortion during this attack.

Police were initially not ruling out the possibility that the shooter was actually a member of the local Taiwanese community and might even have attended a church service there earlier in the day. If that’s the case, this may not turn out to be a “hate crime” at all. It could just be someone who had a beef with some other members of the congregation and snapped, acting out in the most hostile fashion imaginable.

The Governor of California said he was “closely monitoring” the situation and insisted that people have the right to attend religious services without fear. This church is located amid a cluster of other houses of worship serving many faiths.

Gov. 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 incident occurred in an area with a cluster of houses of worship, including Catholic, Lutheran and Methodist churches and a Jewish synagogue.

I hope Governor Newsom keeps that thought about people being able to worship without fear in mind as we move forward. There is no question that extremist pro-abortion activists are planning to target churches this summer. It’s bad enough when they show up and spread graffiti around or disrupt services. But it only takes one out of a large crowd like that to turn up the dial and begin injuring or even killing people.