4 shot, 1 dead at Calif. religious retreat

Temecula, USA — One woman was killed and four people were injured when a gunman in his 70s opened fire at a remote Korean Christian retreat center in Southern California, authorities said Wednesday.

The gunman, described as an Asian man about 72 years old, was among the wounded, Riverside County Sheriff's Sgt. Michael Lujan told KNBC-TV.

Authorities were first called to the Kkottongnae Retreat Camp in Temecula about 85 miles southeast of Los Angeles Tuesday evening, and investigators were still trying to learn the circumstances of the shootings Wednesday morning. They were hindered by a language barrier in trying to sort out the facts.

"We have some nuns that are very distraught," Sheriff's spokesman Dennis Gutierrez said.

The identity of the dead woman was being withheld until relatives were notified. In addition to the gunman, two men and a woman were hospitalized.

Officers began interviewing people at what appeared to be a triage center for injured victims, Gutierrez said, but most of them spoke Korean.

"That language barrier, that's the key to figuring out what happened," Gutierrez said.

The retreat is one of four U.S. branches of the Kkottongnae Brothers and Sisters of Jesus, a Roman Catholic organization dedicated to serving the poor and homeless. It was founded in the city of Cheongju, South Korea, by Father Oh Woong Jin in 1976.

Kkottongnae means "flower village" in Korean.

A woman who answered the phone at the group's Lynwood branch on Tuesday night said she did not speak English well and declined to discuss the shooting.

At the group's headquarters in Eumseong, South Korea, south of Seoul, spokesman Brother Matthew Park said Wednesday he has been unable to get through to branch officials in California and only learned about the shooting through news reports.

The campground, previously used as a summer camp before the group bought it, was marked by a single white sign in English and Korean on the side of a rural winding road in remote southeast Riverside County. The retreat was a mile (1.6 kilometers) up a narrow road into the hills.

Deputies had evacuated the campground and blocked off access. Nothing could be seen from the main road.

Several women from the retreat sat wrapped in blankets outside the law enforcement lines.

"This is the last place this is supposed to happen," Gutierrez said. "A lot of people are shaken up."

Chang Kim of Los Angeles stood at the scene, saying his 88-year-old mother lives up the road that was blocked off. Kim said he was concerned because he could not reach her.

"My mother lives up there," he said. "I can't go there. I can't get in. I'm stuck."