Following a related state case, federal authorities are charging a Chinese man with hate crimes for allegedly attacking a Taiwanese church and murdering a heroic doctor who charged him. The indictment was filed on Thursday.
Authorities in Orange County, California, previous said that the defendant, David Wen-Wei Chou, 69, attacked the Geneva Presbyterian Church in a mass shooting on May 15, 2022. A U.S. citizen who immigrated from China, he opened fire at the church because he was angry about political friction between Taiwan and his birth nation, Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said. That’s why Chou allegedly targeted a place with Taiwanese congregants.
His “hatred of Taiwan manifested” from his time living there in the past, “possibly in his youth,” the sheriff said.
“He was not well received while living there,” Barnes said, citing evidence collected.
Chou allegedly took all that out on the innocent people at Geneva Presbyterian Church. The Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church, which used the space for services, was holding a lunch banquet celebrating the return of one of their pastors, who had been out on a mission trip to Taiwan.
Chou, a Las Vegas resident, drove to the church, bringing two handguns and backup magazines with him, authorities said. He also allegedly placed Molotov cocktail-like incendiary devices throughout the building. During lunch, he secured the doors with chains, and tried to disable locks with superglue, Barnes said. He allegedly opened fire.
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There were approximately 50 people attending the banquet, most of them elderly with ages up to 92, authorities said. Cheng, one of the youngest people there, rushed Chou and tackled him, authorities said. That act of heroism came at the cost of Cheng’s life.
Other parishioners hogtied Chou, authorities said.
Dr. John Cheng, the 52-yr-old man killed in the Laguna Woods shooting yesterday, had tried to disarm the gunman. Other parishioners were able to then hogtie the suspect. “W/o the actions of Dr. Chang, it is no doubt that there have been numerous additional victims in this crime.” pic.twitter.com/01Q4E2UCSI
— Josie Huang (@josie_huang) May 16, 2022
The defendant injured five survivors, according to authorities. The sheriff’s office at the time described the wounded victims as a 66-year-old man, 75-year-old man, 82-year-old man, 86-year-old woman, and a 92-year-old man. All of them were Asian. California authorities are currently prosecuting Chou for murder and other charges, including hate crimes.
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