May 16, 2022
Orange County officials provide update on California Church Shooting 5/15/22 Transcript
One person was killed and five others were injured in a shooting at a church in Laguna Woods Sunday afternoon. Orange County officials provide an update on their investigation on 5/15/22. Read the transcript here.
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Speaker 1: (00:00)
Brian Fennessy, Fire Chief Orange County Fire Authority; Kristi Johnson, Assistant Director in charge FBI, Los Angeles; Stephen Galloway, Assistant Special Agent in charge ATF, Los Angeles; Lisa Bartlett, Orange County Board of Supervisors, Fifth District; and Carol Moore, Laguna Woods Mayor. We will take questions at the conclusion of this press conference.
Jeff Hallock: (00:31)
Good afternoon. First and foremost, I want to send our thoughts and prayers to all those that are impacted by this incident. This is a very tragic incident for the victims, their families, and this entire community. I want to start by asking for your patience also. As you know, this is an active investigation that’s been going on for less than four hours. Our investigators are still diligently processing the scene. So we’re here to provide as much information as we can at the time. But again, just I ask for your patience and please understand that we’re working as quickly as we can to have more details and the information that you’re looking for.
Jeff Hallock: (01:09)
At about 1:26 PM this afternoon, a male subject opened fire here at the Geneva Presbyterian Church in the city of Laguna Woods. One person is confirmed deceased at the scene. Four others are critical and one other victim sustained minor injuries. The injured victims were taken to local hospitals. We currently do not have a status of the injured four that are in critical condition.
Jeff Hallock: (01:34)
When deputies arrived on scene, they provided immediate medical aid to the victims here at the church. Shortly after, our partners from the Orange County Fire Authority arrived on scene and began providing advanced medical life saving measures. We’re very grateful to the Orange County Fire Authority for their quick response and their ability to provide critical life saving treatment.
Jeff Hallock: (01:54)
The incident happened at a lunch banquet following the morning service. And again, to remind you, this is all very preliminary in information. We believe a group of churchgoers detained him and hog tied his legs with an extension cord and confiscated at least two weapons from him. He was detained when the deputies arrived. 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.
Jeff Hallock: (02:27)
The suspect was not injured during the incident and was taken into custody. He’s believed to be an Asian male adult in his 60s. We don’t believe he lives in this area. Investigators are working to determine his city of residence and whether he has any connection to this church or to the congregation.
Jeff Hallock: (02:47)
At this time, we do not know what the suspect’s motive may be or whether he had an intended target or whether this is even a hate related incident. Following the incident, the Sheriff’s department hazardous device section utilized bomb canines and swept the church grounds to ensure there were no secondary devices. Members from the trauma intervention program also are on scene to provide crisis counseling to the congregants.
Brian Fennessy: (03:20)
Multiple OCFA resources responded as part of a potential MCI, a mass casualty incident as part of the active shooter response. Resources included multiple firefighter paramedic units, our specialized mass casualty unit, private ground ambulances and a helicopter air ambulance. An MCI was declared and our firefighter paramedics quickly triaged, treated and transported five patients as the undersheriff said for critical and one minor status and one victim was pronounced deceased at the scene. In addition, OCFA chaplains responded to the church and the hospitals. We also have started our critical incident stress debriefing for our OCFA first responders. Our hearts are with the victims, their families, and our community. Thank you.
Kristi Johnson: (04:19)
Thank you Undersheriff Hallock and Chief Fennessy. Good afternoon. My name is Kristi Johnson and I’m the Assistant Director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office, which has jurisdiction here in Orange County and throughout the area.
Kristi Johnson: (04:32)
First of all, my sincerest condolences to the families and the victims here today, and also a really heartfelt thank you to the congregates who were very brave today in their actions. We arrived today as we would in response to any report of a mass shooting. The FBI responded to offer resources as needed to our partners here at the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. Currently we have investigators working with the Sheriff’s department who are taking logical investigative steps. Obviously motive is always the question, which determines the extent of involvement at the federal level or whether federal or local prosecution is pursued. And at this time we are working very hard to determine the motive.
Kristi Johnson: (05:18)
We will continue to provide resources regardless of the motive as needed by the Sheriff’s department to deliver justice to the victims. We have linguists who are going to arrive soon to assist. We have our evidence response team who has on standby, and we also have our behavioral analysis unit present on scene. And again, on behalf of the FBI, our heartfelt condolences to the victims and their families. Thank you.
Stephen Galloway: (05:50)
Good afternoon. On behalf of the men and women of ATF, I want to send my sincere condolences to the victims, the families and the community that’s been affected by this tragedy.
Stephen Galloway: (06:04)
Upon receiving reports of the shooting, agents from our Santa Ana field office responded to the scene immediately to provide assistance to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. Since the scene has been secured, our agents have initiated an emergency trace on the recovered firearms. Those traces are currently in progress and will be thoroughly investigated once they’re complete. ATF will continue to work in close tandem with our law enforcement partners until this investigation is completed. Nothing further at this time. Thank you.
Lisa Bartlett: (06:48)
Good afternoon. Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett, fifth district. Today is a very dark day for the people of Laguna Woods in Orange County and our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by this senseless tragedy. Just a day after the tragic and hate filled actions that led to the senseless deaths of Americans of the Tops friendly markets in Buffalo, New York, we too are now dealing with people shot in their place of worship here in Laguna Woods.
Lisa Bartlett: (07:15)
I’d like to thank sheriff Don Barnes and the heroic actions of our Orange County Sheriff’s Department and deputies who were able to bring the perpetrator swiftly and securely on the site. I’d also like to thank Chief Fennessy of the Orange County Fire Authority to attending to the victims of this senseless tragedy.
Lisa Bartlett: (07:33)
To the church congregants impacted by the violence that took place here today, we are here for you and we will seek justice for you. To the perpetrator of such heinous acts, our county will work to ensure justice for the victims. As fifth district supervisor, I am making sure that our county’s mental health counselors are available for the victims and their families of today’s shooting.
Lisa Bartlett: (07:59)
I want to thank the Orange County healthcare agency department for being so quick to respond to the needs of our citizens. And to the citizens of Orange County, please know that we will continue to have my unwavering support to ensure the safety and security of all of the residents here in Orange County. Thank you.
Carol Moore: (08:22)
Good afternoon. My name is Carol Moore. I want to thank those people who are wise enough to take action and endanger themselves to save others in that church. That is so impressive. Our thoughts are to all the members of that congregation and their families. And I think that we have to thank, and I know we do thank, the city of Laguna Woods is so pleased the city’s nearby immediately contacted and wanted to support us. It was so outstanding to have that happen. On top of that, we have all these first responders. Please look at these people that are providing our safety. Our fire department, our Sheriff’s department, the FBI, the ATF. We’re so thankful. Thank you for taking the time to cover this properly.
Jeff Hallock: (09:10)
All right, at this time we’ll take any questions you may have.
Speaker 8: (09:12)
So how many arms were recovered?
Jeff Hallock: (09:14)
Speaker 8: (09:15)
How many arms were recovered?
Jeff Hallock: (09:16)
Two firearms were recovered at the scene.
Speaker 9: (09:18)
What kind of firearms were they? Were they handguns, rifles?
Jeff Hallock: (09:21)
Two handguns is what we recovered.
Speaker 10: (09:32)
Hey Jeff, can you talk a little bit about how quickly this transpired, how quickly the parishioners intervened? [inaudible 00:09:32].
Jeff Hallock: (09:32)
Yeah. So the question was how quickly this unfolded. We don’t have that information. The dispatch call came in at about 1:26 PM. Deputies were here within minutes and by the time we arrived, the parishioners had the subject hog tied and in custody. So this happened really quickly.
Speaker 11: (09:46)
Jeff, do you know if anyone was injured in the process of doing that? Was he able to get any more shots off? Anything else?
Jeff Hallock: (09:53)
That’s still part of the active investigation. And like I said earlier, we have five that were injured, four critically. Obviously we’re saddened to say that one that is deceased, but we’re still working through the details and how it unfolded.
Speaker 12: (10:05)
Was the gun legally purchased?
Jeff Hallock: (10:08)
We don’t have that information. That will be part of the investigation.
Speaker 8: (10:09)
Did anybody recognize the assailant?
Jeff Hallock: (10:13)
That’s still part of the investigation. There were a number of witnesses inside, about 30 to 40 that investigators are interviewing now. And so until we get through all of those interviews and that information, we won’t really have a good idea if he was known to the congregants.
Speaker 11: (10:24)
Do we know if there was any specific language spoken or said anything that connected him to them?
Jeff Hallock: (10:30)
Not at this time, that’s stuff that they’re still working through.
Speaker 8: (10:32)
Can you speak to, you said he had two weapons. Did he have any more ammunition with him? And can you speak to how important it was that these folks actually took a stand and tried to stop him? It could have been a different story that we’re telling.
Jeff Hallock: (10:46)
That’s correct. I can’t speak to exactly where the weapons were, if he had any additional ammunition. Again, that’s part of the investigation. But as I said a little bit earlier there, based on the preliminary investigation and the interviews, it does seem that one or more of the congregants did act quite heroically and jumped in and tried to do what they did to subdue the suspect immediately.
Speaker 12: (11:07)
Was he attending the service before, or did he show to the function after the fact?
Jeff Hallock: (11:11)
Those details, I’m not sure.
Speaker 8: (11:18)
Do you know if there was any security on site? Does the church have its own security?
Jeff Hallock: (11:18)
I don’t know the answer to that.
Speaker 11: (11:18)
What about surveillance footage? Was there surveillance footage inside the church?
Jeff Hallock: (11:22)
We don’t know, but if there is, that’s something that investigators will get to as quick as can and be able to review that.
Speaker 13: (11:27)
Do we know if the victims-
Speaker 10: (11:28)
You said it was unknown if this was a hate crime, [inaudible 00:11:30].
Jeff Hallock: (11:35)
Absolutely. And that all goes to the motive and that’s the things we’re working through. So we won’t have answers to that.
Speaker 10: (11:38)
Is there any difference in the race of the shooter and the victims or religion?
Jeff Hallock: (11:42)
Again, we’re still working through all of that. We don’t know.
Speaker 13: (11:44)
The LA Times has it as a 68 year old man. Is that correct? Is he 68 years old originally from Las Vegas?
Jeff Hallock: (11:50)
We’re not identifying him. I will say it’s a male, but no information on age or date of birth. Just say male.
Speaker 13: (12:00)
Do we know if the victims or if the victims are among those who tried to detain him? In other words, do we know if some of the victims were-
Jeff Hallock: (12:08)
There was 30 to 40 people in there, obviously we had the five people that were injured and the one that was deceased. Again, whether they were the ones that were actually trying to detain him, I can’t answer that. Again, there’s a lot of interviews. We’re still only three and a half, four hours into this active investigation. It just takes time to work through it. So again, I just ask for your patience with some of the details.
Speaker 11: (12:26)
Can I ask a question of the ATF? You had mentioned the phrase emergency tracing on the firearms. What is that? And what does that get you?
Stephen Galloway: (12:33)
So our National Tracing Center, which is located in West Virginia, we send the information on the serial numbers, that goes to the tracing center and provides us with results of… What I mean by emergency trace, it’s an emergency situation. It’s not a routine trace. So we’ll get that information back hopefully within the hour. And then our agents will start tracking down the federal firearms licensee who sold that firearm and hopefully trace it back to the original purchaser.
Speaker 11: (13:12)
Do you need ballistics and the serial number?
Stephen Galloway: (13:14)
No, specifically the serial number off the firearm.
Speaker 12: (13:17)
Do these guns have serial numbers?
Speaker 13: (13:18)
So they’re not ghost guns?
Stephen Galloway: (13:19)
Commercially, the information I have is commercially made firearms with serial numbers.
Speaker 8: (13:24)
Can you give an.