Taiwanese church shooting suspect is charged with hate crimes

A 68-year-old man accused of killing one person and wounding five others at a Taiwanese Presbyterian church in Laguna Woods has been charged with aggravating hate crimes, Orange County prosecutors said Friday.

Las Vegas resident David Wenwei Chou had previously been charged with murder, attempted murder and other offenses in the May 15 shooting.

Prosecutors this week added a hate crime augmentation to the murder charge, alleging Chou’s murder of Dr. John Cheng, 52, was motivated by race, color, religion, nationality or country of origin.

Prosecutors also added hate crime amends for each of the five counts of attempted murder against Chou.

Chou could face the death penalty if convicted on all counts, which include four counts of possession of an explosive device, assisting an ambush and personally discharging a deadly firearm. According to court documents, he has not filed a lawsuit.

The hate crime extensions were filed after prosecutors reviewed additional evidence, Orange County Dist. atty said Todd Spitzer. Authorities did not provide details of the evidence.

Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes called last month’s shootings a “politically motivated hate incident” and said authorities believe Chou was “specifically targeting the Taiwanese community.”

Barnes said Chou left notes in Chinese in his car saying he didn’t believe Taiwan should be independent from China. He obviously had a problem with the Taiwanese because of the way he was treated while living in Taiwan, Barnes said.

China views Taiwan as a breakaway province and has become increasingly aggressive in its bid to reclaim the democratic, self-governing island. Within Taiwan, a majority of people favor maintaining the status quo, some want to openly declare independence, and a small minority want to one day unite with China.

Chou was born in China and grew up in Taiwan as a so-called orphan gren – someone with more recent roots in China. The Taiwanese Presybterian Church is known for its support for independence movements, and the Laguna Woods congregation worships in the Taiwanese dialect rather than Mandarin.

Booking photo by David Chou

David Chou, 68, is facing murder, attempted murder and other charges in the Laguna Woods church shooting.

(Orange County Sheriff’s Office)

Prosecutors allege that Chou entered the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, where the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church is renting premises, with two 9mm handguns, several backpacks with extra magazines and four Molotov cocktail-like devices.

He allegedly hid the backpacks in a church banquet room, chained several doors shut, and then mingled with parishioners. The group was there for a luncheon honoring longtime pastor Billy Chang, who was visiting Taiwan after two years.

When the gunman opened fire, Doctor Cheng fought back and was fatally shot. Five others, aged 66 to 92, were hospitalized but survived.

After Cheng tried to stop the gunman, Chang, the visiting pastor, ran towards him with a chair as a weapon.

According to officials and eyewitnesses, Chang said he pushed the gunman to the ground and then, with the help of fellow community members, tied him up with an electric cable.

“He got scared. I don’t think he expected anyone to attack him,” Chang said in an interview with The Times.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-06-17/taiwanese-church-shooting-suspect-is-charged-with-hate-crimes Taiwanese church shooting suspect is charged with hate crimes

Alley Einstein

USTimesPost.com is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – admin@ustimespost.com. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Related Articles

Back to top button