Man Arrested for US Church Shooting in Suspected Hate Crime

Geneva Presbyterian church, scene of a fatal attack

A 68-year-old man has been arrested following a mass shooting at a church in California which killed one person and left five others injured, an attack police believe to have been motivated by the suspect’s hate for Taiwanese people.

David Chou of Las Vegas was arrested on one felony count of murder and five felony counts of attempted murder, and is currently being held on $1m bail.

The shooter killed Dr. John Cheng, 52, and wounded five others when he launched his attack during a lunch held by Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church, which worships at Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, authorities told a news conference.

Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said that the motive for the shooting was grievances held by Chou, a Chinese immigrant, against the Taiwanese community. China claims Taiwan as part of its territory and has ramped up rhetoric surrounding the island in recent years, refusing to rule out taking the area by force.

Barnes said that Chou drove to the church and secured the doors with chains before he started shooting. Four devices similar to molotov cocktails were also discovered inside the church. The suspect was overpowered and apprehended by churchgoers when he stopped to reload his weapon, with a pastor hitting him over the head with a chair.

Prosecutors said they believed Chou’s family were amongst those forcibly removed from China to Taiwan in the 1940s and 1950s. Notes found by authorities suggest the suspected felt mistreated on the island and are working on the basis that this was behind his choice of victims.

Chou is due to appear in state court Tuesday. A federal hate crime investigation has also been opened.