Prosecutors in California have charged the Chinese American man suspected of shooting up a Taiwanese American church last month with a hate crime.
On May 15, 68-year-old David Chou of Las Vegas opened fire inside Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, killing one and wounding five others. At the time of the incident, church members were holding a lunch banquet for a pastor who had recently returned from Taiwan.
In an announcement last week, the Orange County District Attorney's Office noted that hate crime allegations had been added to the complaint because it is believed Chou intentionally killed the victim because of his "race, color, religion, nationality, or country of origin."
"After a review of additional evidence in this case, the Orange County District Attorney's Office has filed an amended criminal complaint to include hate crime allegations," Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said.
According to the Orange County Sheriff's Office, Chou traveled to Southern California a day before the shooting and went to the church Sunday morning. After entering the building, he is believed to have secured the church doors with chains and filled the keyholes with superglue before opening fire.
Six church members sustained gunshot wounds, including Dr. John Cheng, who was shot multiple times as he tackled Chou while other church members tried to hold the suspect down. They managed to tie Chou's legs with extension cords and seized two handguns from the suspect.
Cheng was later pronounced dead at the scene.
"Dr. Cheng was a loving family man, dedicated doctor and a beloved member of our community, and we send our deepest condolences to all who knew him," Don Barnes, Orange County Sheriff-Coroner, said in a statement. "There is no doubt that Dr. Cheng's actions that day saved the lives of many other church members. He is a hero and will be remembered by this community as such."
In addition to the hate crimes committed by Chou, authorities believe that he opened fire at the Taiwanese church because he was "upset about political tensions involving China and Taiwan."
According to The Christian Post, the tensions between both countries originate from China's belief that Taiwan is part of the People's Republic of China, while Taiwanese government leaders contend that the island is a sovereign state.
Chou, who has been taken into custody, is set to be arraigned on Aug. 19 and is being held without bail. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Mario Tama/Staff
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. He is also the co-hosts of the For Your Soul podcast, which seeks to equip the church with biblical truth and sound doctrine. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.