Therapy dog helps first responders cope with fatal Laguna Woods church shooting trauma

SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- A crisis comfort therapy dog and his handler, working with the Orange County Sheriff's Department, were called out Sunday to one of the hospitals treating some of the Laguna Woods church shooting victims.

The dog owner told Eyewitness News that he is a retired sergeant with the O.C. Sheriff's Department. He says it's critical for first responders to remove themselves from these traumatic situations even if momentarily to allow their minds to take a break.

That's where Henry the dog comes in.

"When we walked in, Henry got mobbed by the nurses because they've been, it's just been crazy the last four or five hours," said Steven Booth. "Not only for the regular stuff that they have to deal with, but when they have to deal with an incident like this, it's even harder," said Steven Booth.

Henry the therapy dog.

Two of the victims wounded in Sunday's shooting were transported to Orange County Global Medical Center. Two other victims were taken to Providence Mission Hospital.

These two hospitals are the ones with trauma centers closest Geneva Presbyterian Church, where the shooting happened.

A fifth person was taken to UCI Medical Center in Orange.

According to the O.C. Sheriff's Department, four of the hospitalized victims were critically wounded, and a fifth suffered minor injuries.

Those five victims, four men and one woman, range in age from 66 to 92 years old.

MORE | 1 dead, multiple others critically injured after shooting inside church in Laguna Woods
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At least one person was killed and multiple others were injured during a shooting on Sunday at a church in Laguna Woods, authorities said.

Earlier at Providence Mission Hospital, a crime scene lab van was present to assist with the shooting investigation.

In a statement, a spokesperson with Mission Hospital says in part:

"The Trauma Center at Providence Mission Hospital is South Orange County's only Level II trauma facility, and our patients are in receipt of the highest quality care."

No updates on the conditions of the five hospitalized victims were available.

Investigators say they are waiting to release the identity of the sixth person who died on scene until they've notified their loved ones.

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