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Shooting at Korean center in US

ONE woman was killed and four people were injured when a gunman opened fire at a remote Korean Christian retreat center in Southern California, authorities said yesterday.

The gunman, described as an Asian man in his 70s, was among the wounded, Riverside County Sheriff's Sergeant Michael Lujan told KNBC-TV.

Authorities were first called to the Kkottongnae Retreat Camp in Temecula about 137 kilometers southeast of Los Angeles on Tuesday evening, and investigators were still trying to learn the circumstances of the shootings yesterday 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 US 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.

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.

Deputies had evacuated the campground and blocked off access. 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."


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