1 killed in SoCal church terror attack

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16 May 2022, 4:16 pm

Sheriff: OC shooting was motivated by hate; victim was 'hero'

Quote:
A man who opened fire inside a Laguna Woods church, killing one person and injuring five others, had no connection to the Taiwanese congregation or anyone in it, but was a Chinese immigrant motivated by hate due to political tensions between China and Taiwan, Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said Monday.

David Wenwei Chou, 68, of Las Vegas, Nevada, remains jailed on suspicion of one count of murder and five counts of attempted murder stemming from the 1:25 p.m. Sunday shooting at the Geneva Presbyterian Church at 24301 El Toro Road.

He is accused of walking into the church as a Taiwanese congregation was holding a post-services banquet to honor a visiting pastor, barricading the doors so those inside could not escape, then initially mingling with parishioners but eventually opening fire, killing one person and injuring five others.

Barnes said Chou also placed four incendiary devices inside the church, similar to Molotov cocktails. Investigators also found bags that Chou brought to the church containing additional ammunition.

Dr. John Cheng, 52, a physician with South Bay Medical Group in Aliso Viejo, was killed when he charged the gunman and attempted to disarm him, Barnes said. Cheng is survived by a wife and two children.

"Dr. Cheng is a hero in this incident," Barnes said, adding that the doctor's actions bought time for other parishioners to subdue the suspect and eventually hogtie him.

"Without the actions of Dr. Cheng, there is no doubt there would be additional victims in this crime," Barnes said.

The sheriff said investigators have determined the shooting was an isolated incident carried out solely by Chou, and the shooting was a "politically motivated hate incident." Barnes said the suspect "was upset about political tensions between China and Taiwan.

Investigators were still working to determine why Chou, who was a licensed security guard in Nevada, chose the Orange County congregation to target, since he had no known ties to anyone connected with it.

When the shooting erupted, parishioners took quick action. Cheng charged the gunman when he paused to reload his weapon. The pastor also threw a chair at the gunman, Barnes said, and others advanced on him, held him down and hogtied him with electrical cords.

In addition to Cheng, five other people were shot:


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