- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 9, 2009

TEMECULA, Calif. (AP) | Investigators are trying to determine what prompted a volunteer to go on a deadly rampage at a Christian retreat run by a South Korean organization dedicated to serving the poor and homeless.

Police said John Chong, 69, fatally shot a fellow resident Tuesday night and wounded her husband before being disarmed during a struggle with another couple.

Mr. Chong had lived at the Kkottongnae Retreat Camp for about a year as a volunteer after moving from the Los Angeles suburb of Lynwood. The two couples attacked also were resident volunteers.

Detectives, having trouble piecing together exactly what happened because many witnesses speak only Korean, were not able to determine immediately a motive.

“We have no evidence that this was a domestic dispute. We do not have a motive or reason for this incident,” sheriff's Sgt. Michael Lujan said Wednesday.

The retreat, about 85 miles southeast of Los Angeles, is marked by a simple white sign along a two-lane road that winds through the hills of the Temecula wine country.

Investigators determined that Mr. Chong, who lived alone in a bungalow, had gone to the first couple's bungalow and shot the woman once in the head with a .32-caliber revolver, killing her instantly, Sgt. Lujan said. Her husband was then shot in the torso.

Mr. Chong then went to a second bungalow about 300 yards away and attempted to shoot the second couple, but they fought him off in what appeared to be a violent and extensive fistfight, Sgt. Lujan said. Two shots were discharged from the revolver during the brawl, but no one was hit.

“From all accounts it was hand to hand,” Sgt. Lujan said. “There was physical evidence that a significant altercation had occurred. We're talking turned-over furniture, damage to the door, damage to furnishings and fixtures.”

Mr. Chong was hospitalized in serious condition with trauma to his face and remained unconscious. No relatives had been located.

The wounded man was hospitalized in serious condition Wednesday afternoon. The couple hurt in the fistfight also remained hospitalized, though their injuries were not serious, sheriff's Capt. Mitchell Alm said.

Sgt. Lujan said about 100 people were staying on the retreat property, but he wasn't sure how many were residents and how many were visitors.

The retreat has about 10 bungalows spread across 3 to 4 acres. The retreat also has hookups for recreational vehicles, a lecture room, a prayer room and a conference room.

On Wednesday morning, people trying to get to the retreat were turned away by yellow police tape and sheriff's deputies guarding the entrance.

Young Balser, of Temecula, said she visits the retreat about once a month. She said she wanted to see whether she could help the nuns.

”I got shaken up; those nuns must be pretty shaken up,” she said. “They pray morning to noon, their life is so pure. That's why I came here, to try to be close to them. I can feel how much suffering they're going through and how scared they are.”

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.

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

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