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Shooting at church so nearby has shaken Laguna Woods Village, a gated retirement community

A deadly shooting Sunday at a church just outside the gates of Laguna Wood Village, the massive retirement community in south Orange County, has shaken its residents.

Though law enforcement officials have just begun their investigation into the motive of the shooting that killed one and injured five, it appears to have taken place during a luncheon of the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church, which uses the Geneva Presbyterian Church on Sundays.

Residents of Laguna Woods Village are members of both congregations.

“Any type of violent action that happens in or around Laguna Woods always affects the well-being of our residents,” said Rabbi Joe Mendelsohn, who leads the Reform Temple inside the gates of Laguna Woods and is also a resident of the community.

“We must work together to ensure violence is eliminated from our community.”

Mendelsohn said he already has been talking to a number of clergy and congregants who want to support the Taiwanese community and to bring the Laguna Woods community together.

“Any group that has been targeted in the past always reacts to this kind of event with an initial reaction of fear. The knee-jerk reaction is always, ‘Oh my God, are we next?’”

Marcy Sheinwold is president of the Foundation of Laguna Woods Village, a nonprofit that raises and distributes funds for Laguna Woods Village residents in need.

The foundation works closely with Village Management Services Social Services, and as such has seen the effects the last two years of pandemic have already had on the mental well-being of many older adults.

News of the shooting outside the village gates will only exacerbate the feelings of uncertainty, she worried.

“The village is supposed to be a safe place for older residents who are retired, but this (shooting) brings the reality of the outside world right into our ‘bubble,’” Sheinwold said.

“Coming right out of the pandemic, where we had to deal with social isolation, to hear of this kind of event shattering the sense of security in the Village is troubling,” she added. “It’s very disconcerting for older people who may not have the physical and emotional strength to deal with this kind of threat.”

Village Management Services advises that any village resident who needs emotional support should call Social Services at 949-597-4267.

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