Pastor Reportedly Hit Gunman With Chair During Laguna Woods Church Shooting

By Zuri Anderson

May 16, 2022

1 dead, 4 critically injured in California church shooting: Sheriff
Photo: Getty Images

A Southern California community is reeling from a horrific church shooting over the weekend, one witness is opening up about a heroic act he witnessed during the tragedy.

Jerry Chen, a 72-year-old member of the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, told the LA Times he saw the pastor strike the shooter during his rampage on Sunday (May 15). According to the churchgoer, the congregation was enjoying lunch for Pastor Billy Chang until they heard gunshots ring out around 1:30 p.m.

“I heard the gun sounds,” he recounts. “Then I heard two or three more gunshots. He was just randomly shooting.” As Chen called 911, that's when he spotted Chang hitting the gunman with a chair as the suspect was reloading his weapon. Authorities say members of the congregation tackled the shooter and hogtied him with an extension cord -- a move that probably saved more lives.

One person died from the shooting while five more were injured, according to officials. The suspect has only been identified as a 68-year-old Asian man from Las Vegas, reporters learned from law enforcement. No other details have been revealed as of Monday morning (May 16).

Before service, Chen says the congregation welcomed the suspect with open arms even though they were unfamiliar with him. The shooter even told them he attended several services before that day, but that left churchgoers slightly suspicious.

"Our church is very kind," he said. "We are all very kind to other people."

Law enforcement officials also praised the congregation for their fearless actions during the shooting.

“That group of churchgoers displayed what we believe is exceptional heroism and bravery,” Orange County Undersheriff Jeff Hallock said. “It’s safe to say that had they not intervened this situation could have been much worse.”

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