Amy Taxin and Deepa Bharath, Associated Press, May 16, 2022
A gunman in deadly attack at California church was Chinese immigrant motivated by hate for Taiwanese people, authorities said.
The shooting killed John Cheng and five others were wounded in an attack at a Southern California church, authorities said at a Monday news conference.
Worshippers detained the gunman Sunday by hog-tying his legs with an electrical cord until authorities arrived, according to authorities.
Congregant Jerry Chen said he saw church members screaming, running and ducking under tables. Officials did not immediately disclose a motive for the shooting at the Geneva Presbyterian Church in the city of Laguna Woods.
David Chou, 68, of Las Vegas has been booked on one count of murder and five counts of attempted murder, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department tweeted. Jail records show Chou is being held on $1 million bail. It’s not immediately known whether he has a lawyer who can speak on his behalf.
Chen said a group of about 40 congregants had gathered in the fellowship hall for a luncheon after a morning service to welcome their former Pastor Billy Chang, a beloved and respected community member who had served the church for 20 years. Chang moved back to Taiwan two years ago. This was his first time back stateside, Chen said.
“Everyone had just finished lunch,” he said. “They were taking photos with Pastor Chang. I had just finished my lunch and went into the kitchen.”
That was when he heard the gunshots and ran out.
Soon afterward, Chen said he heard the details of what happened inside from others who came out. Fellow congregants told Chen that when the gunman stopped to reload, Chang hit him on the head with a chair while others moved quickly to grab his gun. They then subdued him and tied him up, Chen said.
“It was amazing how brave (Chang) and the others were,” he said. “This is just so sad. I never, ever thought something like this would happen in my church, in my community.”
Most of the church’s members are older, highly educated Taiwanese immigrants, Chen said.
“We’re mostly retirees and the average age of our church is 80,” he said.
But when the shooter was identified as an Asian man, other questions arose as the investigation into the violence and the gunman’s motive continues.
Those wounded by gunshots included four Asian men, ages 66, 75, 82 and 92, and an 86-year-old Asian woman, the sheriff’s department said.
It was not immediately clear whether all of the victims were of Taiwanese descent, or if the gunman also has ties to Taiwan.