Orange County Sheriff's Sgt. Scott Steinle displays a photo of Dr. John Cheng, a 52-year-old victim who was killed in Sunday's shooting at Geneva Presbyterian Church, during a news conference in Santa Ana, Calif., Monday, May 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Jae C. Ho)
One person was killed and five were wounded Sunday during an attack at a Taiwanese church in California. The shooter was reportedly driven by hatred of the self-governing territory.
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen released a statement Tuesday saying she condemned “any form of violence” and sent her sympathies to those killed and injured. She also asked the territory’s chief representative in the United States to fly to California to help.
The suspect in the Sunday shooting is 68-year-old David Chou of Las Vegas, Nevada. Law enforcement officials said he locked the doors of the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, California, and hid bombs before shooting at the people inside.
He opened fire until Dr. John Cheng tackled him. That permitted other people to overpower the shooter and tie him up. Cheng was killed and five others were wounded. Officials said Monday that Cheng’s action saved many lives.
Chou was expected to appear in a California state court Tuesday on suspicion of murder and attempted murder. A federal hate crimes investigation is also ongoing.
Who is Chou?
Chou, a U.S. citizen, documented his hatred toward the Taiwanese community in hand-written notes found by law enforcement.
Sheriff Don Barnes leads the local police in Orange County, California. He said, “I believe his hatred of Taiwan manifested while he was residing there in previous years, possibly in his youth. He was not well received while living there…”
Taiwan’s Central News Agency reported that Chou was born in Taiwan in 1953, noting that it came from the head of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Los Angeles.
Chou's family appeared to be among the one million people who left mainland China for the island when the Communists took power in China in 1949.
Fights and arguments between native Taiwanese and mainland Chinese were common. The Presbyterian Church is the most common Christian group in Taiwan. It is also closely identified with the movement for Taiwanese independence.
Chou had ties to a Chinese-backed organization opposed to Taiwan’s independence, Taiwanese media reported. But those details could not immediately be confirmed by The Associated Press.
China claims Taiwan as its own territory to be taken by force if necessary. China regularly denounces Tsai, her ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), and their foreign supporters.
Tensions between China and Taiwan are at the highest level in many years. China is increasing its military action by flying fighter jets toward the self-governing island.
In Taiwan, DPP lawmaker Lin Ching-yi questioned on her Facebook page whether Chinese propaganda led to violence. Lin said Taiwanese need to “face up to hateful speech and organizations” backed by China’s ruling Communist Party. She mentioned the United Front Work Department that supports China's political goals in Taiwan and Chinese communities in other countries.
Asked about Chou’s reported political beliefs, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said Beijing had “noted the relevant reports.”
“We hope the U.S. government will take effective measures to resolve the worsening gun violence issue at home,” Wang told reporters.
Words in This Story
tackle — v. to forcefully seize and cause that person to fall to the ground
manifest — v. to show clearly
reside — v. to live in a particular place
relevant — adj. relating to a subject in an appropriate way