Alleged Church Gunman Sent Diary to Newspaper Before Attack

The World Journal newspaper received documents titled ”Diary of an Angel Destroying Independence” from David Chou one day after the shooting
318

The gunman who is accused of opening fire inside a Laguna Woods church on Sunday because of his political hatred for Taiwan sent copies of a diary to Chinese-language newspaper the World Journal before the attack, the paper said Wednesday.

David Chou, 68, who killed one man and injured five others in the attack, spent $16.10 to mail seven thick photocopied volumes handwritten in Chinese text and a flash drive to the World Journal office in Monterey Park, according to images published in the paper, the Associated Press reports.

The documents were titled “Diary of an Angel of Destroying Independence” in an apparent reference to Taiwan’s self-government, according to AP. The newspaper received the diary pages Monday, one day after Chou allegedly opened fire at a lunch gathering following a church service at Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods.

The newspaper didn’t report the contents of the documents and no staff there apparently read them before turning them over to the police via the outlet’s attorney, an employee told AP.

Orange County Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Carrie Braun said she was aware of the documents, but she did not know if the department or FBI had taken possession of them as of Wednesday afternoon.

Chou could face life in prison or the death penalty if convicted of murder and attempted murder. The Las Vegas man has not yet entered a plea and is being held without bail at an Orange County jail, pending a June 10 arraignment.

Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer has said Chou was motivated by hatred for Taiwan, where he was born after his family was forced from mainland China when Communists were victorious in a civil war that concluded in 1949, AP reports. Authorities said Chou, who drove from Las Vegas to Southern California, randomly selected a church and that he didn’t know anyone there.

Chou’s next-door neighbor near the Las Vegas Strip told the Los Angeles Times that the accused killer had been on a downward spiral for some time. His wife, who was suffering from cancer, had left him and moved to Taiwan. He had also sold his shabby rental property, including his own apartment, and then couldn’t afford the rent the new landlord of his old property was charging.

Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said investigators also found handwritten notes in Chou’s car supporting their belief that his hatred of Taiwan is what motivated the attack.

Authorities said Chou sat through church service before attending a luncheon in honor of a former pastor. He allegedly mingled with congregants for roughly 40 minutes before chaining the church’s doors and filling the locks with superglue.

Chou, who was a security guard in Las Vegas, was armed with two legally purchased 9 mm handguns and concealed bags holding ammunition and four Molotov cocktail-style devices, which he placed in the church hall, authorities said.

Dr. John Cheng, 52, was killed in the shooting when he attempted to disarm Chou. Authorities said his actions disrupted the attack and former pastor Billy Chang threw a chair at Chou who fell on the floor. Chang said he charged at Chou and several parishioners held the gunman down and hogtied him.

Five church attendees, ranging from 66 to 92, were injured in the attack but are expected to survive.

The attack stunned Southern California’s Taiwanese community.

“I am starting to worry about our people,” Dr. Simon Lin, a leader at the Taiwan Center Foundation of Los Angeles, said at a news conference. “The Taiwan Center is very friendly. It’s open to the public. We never check your background.”


Stay on top of the latest in L.A. food and culture. Sign up for our newsletters today.