Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer announced the charges against David Chou, 68, at a news conference Tuesday. Aside from first-degree murder charges for the death of 52-year-old John Cheng, Chou also faces 5 counts of attempted murder and four counts of possession of destructive devices with intent to kill or cause harm.
He is being held on $1 million bail. The indictment is expected later on Tuesday.
Prosecutors are also calling for an upgrade for “Lying in wait.” Those charges could carry a maximum sentence of life or death with no possibility of parole, Spitzer said.
“We usually think of the person hiding in the bushes,” said Spitzer. “In this case, it’s about the person hiding in plain sight.”
Authorities said Chou – a US citizen who authorities say grew up in Taiwan – was motivated by hatred of Taiwanese.
“While there is currently very strong evidence that this was motivated by hate, we want to make sure we have all the evidence that supports this theory in this case,” said Spitzer when asked if he was facing a hate charge would reimburse crimes.
Chou is accused of opening fire during a Sunday luncheon for members of the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church praying at Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods Ward. Cheng, a doctor who heroically attacked the gunman, was killed and five other people injured.
Chou drove to Orange County on Saturday and attended lunch the next day. Though he didn’t know anyone there, he spent about an hour mingling with about 40 attendees and then carrying out his plan, authorities said at a news conference.
He chained the doors and put superglue in the keyholes, authorities said. He had two 9mm handguns – which he had bought legally in Las Vegas years earlier – and three bags containing, among other things, four Molotov cocktail-like incendiary devices and extra ammunition.
Authorities said Chou opened fire and in the ensuing chaos, Cheng attacked him and tried to disarm him so others could jump in and help.
He opened fire and in the ensuing chaos, Dr. John Cheng, 52, approached him and allowed other community members to overpower him and tie him up with extension cords, authorities said.
Terrifying photos from ABC7 show the moment Chou was subdued by heroic parishioners.
Cheng, who leaves behind a wife and two children, was shot several times during the fight and died at the scene.
“Without the actions of Dr. Cheng, there would undoubtedly be numerous other victims in this crime,” Barnes said.
READ MORE | A prominent OC doctor has been killed trying to stop a suspected gunman at Laguna Woods church, according to sheriff
The other injured victims, four men and one woman, were between 66 and 92 years old. They were all taken to local hospitals for treatment — two of them to the Orange County Global Medical Center, which issued a statement Monday on the condition of two of the victims.
“Both patients were hospitalized after treatment at our trauma center. Both are in stable condition, are expected to fully recover from their injuries and will be discharged in the next 24 to 48 hours,” the statement said, in part.
According to police, Chou’s anger reportedly began when he was living in Taiwan and said his “anti-Taiwan views” were not accepted. Police said officers found notes in his vehicle indicating his hatred of Taiwan.
Tensions between China and Taiwan are at their highest in decades, and Beijing is stepping up its military harassment by flying warplanes toward the self-governing island. China has not ruled out reunification with Taiwan, which seceded from the mainland in 1949 during a civil war.
In a statement from her office, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen condemned the violence and offered her condolences to those killed and injured.
Her office said she also asked Taiwan’s chief representative in the US, Bi-khim Hsiao, to fly to California to provide assistance.
According to Taiwanese media, Chou had ties to a Chinese-backed organization opposed to Taiwan’s independence, although details could not be immediately confirmed.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2022 KABC Television, LLC. All rights reserved.
https://abc7.com/church-shooting-laguna-woods-orange-county-court/11860789/ Orange County shooting: Las Vegas man charged in fatal Presbyterian Church shooting in Geneva charged with 10 counts