Police: Laguna Woods shooting was politically motivated hate crime

The suspect in a taking pictures that killed one individual and injured 5 at a Taiwanese church in Laguna Woods seemed to be motivated by political hatred of Taiwan, officers mentioned Monday.

David Wenwei Chou, 68, of Las Vegas, left notes in Chinese language in his automobile stating he didn’t imagine Taiwan needs to be unbiased from China, mentioned Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes.

“We imagine, primarily based on what we’ve found up to now, that he particularly focused the Taiwanese group, and that is one illustration of that Taiwanese group,” Barnes mentioned.

The FBI has opened a federal hate crimes investigation into the taking pictures, which occurred Sunday at round 1:30 p.m.

Officers mentioned the suspect secured church doorways with chains and tried to disable locks with superglue. He additionally tried to nail at the least one door shut, Barnes mentioned.

Luggage containing magazines of ammunition, in addition to 4 Molotov cocktail-like incendiary gadgets, had been discovered on the scene.

Officers recovered two firearms on the scene, each 9 mm semiautomatic pistols bought lawfully in Las Vegas, in accordance with an official with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

China considers Taiwan a breakaway province and has grown more and more aggressive about reclaiming the democratic, self-ruled island.

Inside Taiwan, emotions concerning the island’s relationship to China run so passionate that open debates are sometimes averted.

In response to Barnes, Chou was born in mainland China and in some unspecified time in the future relocated to Taiwan earlier than transferring to the US. Chou apparently had a difficulty with Taiwanese folks due to the best way he was handled whereas residing there, Barnes mentioned.

However an official from the Taipei Financial and Cultural Workplace in Los Angeles mentioned Chou was born in Taiwan, holds a Taiwanese passport and did obligatory navy service in Taiwan.

The workplace is Taiwan’s de facto embassy, for the reason that island is just not formally acknowledged by the U.S. and most different nations.

Most of the 100 or so members of Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church, which rents house at Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, are aged Taiwanese immigrants. Some mentioned that Chou spoke to them in Taiwanese earlier than opening fireplace with a handgun at a luncheon to honor a former longtime pastor.

The church’s providers are performed not in Mandarin however in Taiwanese, a dialect that was as soon as suppressed by the Kuomintang authorities.

These injured within the taking pictures ranged in age from 66 to 92.

David Chou, 68

Reserving picture of David Chou, 68, the suspect within the Laguna Woods church taking pictures.

(Orange County Sheriff’s Division)

As of Monday afternoon, two had been hospitalized in good situation, with two others in steady situation, in accordance with the Orange County Fireplace Authority. The standing of the fifth sufferer was not obtainable.

John Cheng, a 52-year-old physician, was hailed as a hero for tackling the suspect and trying to disarm him earlier than being fatally shot.

“He sacrificed himself in order that others may stay,” Orange County Dist. Atty. Todd Spitzer mentioned of Cheng at a information convention.

A photo of Dr. John Cheng, a 52-year-old victim who was killed in Sunday's shooting at Geneva Presbyterian Church.

A photograph of Dr. John Cheng, a 52-year-old sufferer who was killed in Sunday’s taking pictures at Geneva Presbyterian Church.

(Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Instances)

Cheng, who practiced household drugs and sports activities drugs in Aliso Viejo, was married and had two younger kids. He was not a member of the church, however his father had not too long ago died, and he was there accompanying his mom, in accordance with a written account by Chang, the previous pastor.

After Cheng tried to cease the gunman, the previous pastor, Billy Chang, hit him with a chair. Different parishioners then hogtied him with an electrical twine.

“Nearly all of the folks in attendance had been aged, they usually acted spontaneously, heroically,” Barnes mentioned. “And if not for his or her fast motion, the best way that this particular person arrange that setting to kill many extra folks, there would have been many, many extra lives misplaced if not for the concerted effort of the members of that church.”

Chou was arrested Sunday and is being held in lieu of $1-million bail on the Orange County Consumption Launch Heart, jail information present. He’s scheduled to seem in court docket Tuesday.

Sheriff’s spokeswoman Carrie Braun mentioned he was booked on one rely of homicide and 5 counts of tried homicide.

The Presbyterian church in Taiwan has a protracted historical past of advocating for the island’s independence from China, mentioned Lev Nachman, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard College whose analysis focuses on political participation in Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Throughout martial legislation within the Nineteen Seventies, the church helped shield and conceal pro-independence activists, Nachman mentioned.

Louis M. Huang, director normal of the Taipei Financial and Cultural Workplace in Los Angeles, mentioned his workplace has reached out to members of the family of all victims, 4 of whom held Taiwanese citizenship.

“Anybody sharing completely different views has to respect one another. Merely, that’s what democracy is all about,” Huang mentioned. “Folks may maintain completely different views … however it doesn’t imply they’ve the best to assault anybody.”

In response to an account from the church, a person whom the receptionist didn’t acknowledge entered the sanctuary at round 10:10 a.m. Sunday.

The receptionist requested him in Taiwanese to fill out a type along with his private data, however the man refused. He gave his identify as “Da-Wei Chou” and mentioned in Taiwanese that he had attended prior to now and had already crammed out the shape, the account mentioned.

In the course of the 10 a.m. service, Chou sat within the again studying a Chinese language newspaper.

After the luncheon for the previous pastor, attended by about 140 folks, some parishioners witnessed Chou locking the doorways with iron chains and assumed he was a safety guard, in accordance with the account.

One church member noticed Chou nail two exit doorways shut utilizing a hammer and nails.

When Chou shot a bullet within the air, many thought a balloon had popped, the church’s account mentioned.

After Cheng tried to sort out Chou, some church members dropped to the bottom, and others escaped into the kitchen, in accordance with the account.

Chang and the opposite parishioners then sprang into motion, profiting from a second when Chou’s gun jammed to subdue him and tie him up.

Instances workers author Anh Do contributed to this report.



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