Authorities say that alleged mass-shooter David Chou was motivated by hate when he opened fire inside a Laguna Woods church on Sunday, killing one man and wounding five other churchgoers.
“This is a manifestation of the ugliest part of our humanity that exists in our country today,” Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said at a news conference on Monday.
Barnes said that Chou, a 68-year-old U.S. citizen who was born in China, was “politically motivated” when he drove from Las Vegas to Geneva Presbyterian Church, and that he was specifically targeting the Taiwanese community, KTLA reports.
“Based on preliminary information in the investigation, it is believed the suspect involved was upset about political tensions between China and Taiwan,” Barnes said, adding that Chou’s wife currently lives in Taiwan.
Barnes also said that the FBI has launched an investigation and that notes written in Mandarin found in Chou’s car demonstrated “hatred of the Taiwanese people.”
The attack occurred during a lunch banquet attended by about 50 people members of the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church, which has been using the church for its services, according to KTLA.
Authorities say that Chou “methodically” placed bags of Molotov cocktails and ammunition around the hall as the event took place, secured the doors with chains, and filled the locks with superglue, before opening fire.
Local sports medicine specialist Dr. John Cheng, 52, tackled the gunman and was shot and killed in the process.
“He took it upon himself to charge across the room and to do everything he could to disable the assailant,” O.C. District Attorney Todd Spitzer said. “He sacrificed himself so that others could live.”
An 86-year-old woman was wounded by gunfire, as were four men aged 66, 92, 82 and 75.
Geneva Presbyterian church may have been chosen for no reason other than having been the closest Taiwanese congregation to Las Vegas, the sheriff said. “I believe his hatred of Taiwan manifested when he was residing there in previous years, possibly in his youth.”
Two nine-millimeter handguns were found at the scene, which Chou, who worked as a security guard, purchased legally in Las Vegas, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
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