By AMY TAXIN and STEFANIE DAZIO
LAGUNA WOODS, Calif. (AP) — A gunman motivated by hatred towards Taiwan chained shut the doorways of a California church and hid firebombs earlier than taking pictures at a gathering of largely aged Taiwanese parishioners, killing a person who tackled him, authorities stated.
David Chou, 68, of Las Vegas — a U.S. citizen whom authorities say grew up in Taiwan — drove to Orange County on Saturday and the following day attended a lunch held by Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church, which worships at Geneva Presbyterian Church in the neighborhood of Laguna Woods. Although he knew nobody there, he spent about an hour mingling with about 40 attendees after which executed his plot, authorities stated at a information convention.
He chained the doorways and put tremendous glue within the keyholes. He had two 9 mm handguns — legally bought years in the past in Las Vegas — and three baggage, containing amongst different issues 4 Molotov-cocktail-type incendiary gadgets and further ammunition. He opened hearth and within the ensuing chaos Dr. John Cheng, 52, tackled him, permitting different parishioners to subdue him and tie him up with extension cords.
Cheng died and 5 individuals have been wounded, the oldest 92. Sheriff Don Barnes known as Cheng’s heroism “a gathering of excellent versus evil” that in all probability saved the lives “of upwards of dozens of individuals.”
Chou was booked on suspicion of homicide and tried homicide and jailed on $1 million bail. He was anticipated to seem in state court docket Tuesday. It was not instantly clear whether or not he had an lawyer who may communicate on his behalf. A federal hate crimes investigation can be ongoing.
Chou had labored as a safety guard in Las Vegas, authorities stated.
There was no rapid phrase on why Chou selected to focus on the church in Laguna Woods, a scenic coastal space whose inhabitants primarily consists of retirees and is close to a big gated group.
Barnes stated the motive for the taking pictures was Chou’s hatred towards Taiwan that was documented in handwritten notes that authorities discovered. Chou’s household apparently was amongst many forcibly faraway from mainland China to Taiwan someday after 1948, Orange County District Legal professional Todd Spitzer stated.
Relations between mainlanders pressured to flee a Communist takeover and native Taiwanese have been regularly tense as the brand new arrivals crowded into slums and navy communities. Separated by language and life-style, bullying and confrontation have been frequent as President Chiang Kai-shek tightly restricted civil liberties beneath practically 4 a long time of martial legislation.
The Presbyterian Church is probably the most distinguished of the Christian denominations in Taiwan and was intently recognized with the pro-democracy motion in the course of the martial legislation period and later with the Taiwan independence trigger.
Barnes referred to Chou as an immigrant from China however Taiwan’s Central Information Company says it interviewed Louis M. Huang, director common of the Taipei Financial and Cultural Workplace in Los Angeles, and he confirmed that Chou was born in Taiwan in 1953.
Barnes stated Chou acted alone and was “not believed to be related to any particular church or any faith, and there’s no direct connection to the church or any member of the church that we’re conscious of.”
Balmore Orellana, a former neighbor, stated Chou’s life unraveled after his spouse left him final yr. Earlier than, Chou had been a pleasing man who used to personal the Las Vegas house constructing the place he lived till being evicted in February, Orellana informed The Related Press.
Information confirmed the four-unit property was bought final October for somewhat greater than $500,000. Orellana stated Chou’s spouse used the cash from the sale to maneuver to Taiwan.
Earlier than Orellana moved in about 5 years in the past, Chou obtained a head damage and different critical accidents in an assault by a tenant, the neighbor stated. Extra lately his psychological well being declined and final summer time a gun was fired inside Chou’s house and the bullet entered Orellana’s house, though no person was harm, Orellana stated.
Police studies in regards to the assault and the taking pictures weren’t instantly out there Monday.
Tensions between China and Taiwan are on the highest in a long time, with Beijing stepping up its navy harassment by flying fighter jets towards the self-governing island. China has not dominated out drive to reunify with Taiwan, which cut up from the mainland throughout a civil warfare in 1949.
Taiwan’s chief consultant within the U.S., Bi-khim Hsiao, provided condolences on Twitter.
“I be a part of the households of the victims and Taiwanese American communities in grief and pray for the speedy restoration of the wounded survivors,” Hsiao wrote on Sunday.
Chinese language Embassy spokesperson Liu Pengyu informed the AP by way of e-mail that the Chinese language authorities has “persistently condemned incidents of violence. We categorical our condolences to the victims and honest sympathy to the bereaved households and the injured.”
These wounded by gunshots included an 86-year-old lady in addition to 4 males, ages 66, 75, 82 and 92, the sheriff’s division stated. Authorities on Monday stated two of the wounded have been in good situation, two have been in secure situation and the standing of the fifth affected person was undetermined.
Jerry Chen, a longtime member of the church, stated a bunch of about 40 congregants had gathered within the fellowship corridor for a luncheon after a morning service to welcome their former Pastor Billy Chang, a beloved and revered group member who had served the church for 20 years. Chang moved again to Taiwan two years in the past. This was his first time again stateside, Chen stated.
Everybody had simply completed lunch and have been taking images with Chang when Chen went into the kitchen. That’s when he heard the gunshots.
Barnes stated Cheng, a sports activities medication physician who’s survived by a spouse and two kids, charged on the shooter and tried to disarm him, permitting others to intervene. Chang hit the gunman on the pinnacle with a chair earlier than different parishioners subdued him.
“I’ll let you know that evil was in that church,” Spitzer stated, who added that Chou had “an absolute bias” towards Taiwan and its individuals.
The taking pictures got here a day after an 18-year-old man shot and killed 10 individuals in Buffalo, New York, in a racist rampage the place the white gunman allegedly focused a grocery store in a predominantly Black neighborhood.
Related Press journalists John Antczak in Los Angeles, Ken Ritter in Las Vegas and Ellen Knickmeyer in Washington contributed to this story. Information Researcher Rhonda Shafner contributed from New York.
Related Press faith protection receives help by means of the AP’s collaboration with The Dialog US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. The AP is solely liable for this content material.