California church shooter upset over Taiwan-China tensions – police

May 16 (Reuters) – The man accused of killing a doctor and injuring five others in a shooting at a Taiwanese-American church banquet in California methodically planned the attack because he was upset by Sino-Taiwanese tensions, authorities said on Monday.

The suspect, David Chou, 68, chained the doors and placed glue in the locks of the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, California, about 72 km southeast of Los Angeles, before opened fire inside the church on Sunday, Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said Monday.

Up to 40 people, members of a Taiwanese Presbyterian congregation in Irvine, California, which has space in the church, were attending a luncheon honoring a former local pastor when the shooting began , sheriff officials said.

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Chou, described by the sheriff as a Chinese-born U.S. citizen and Las Vegas resident, drove to Southern California on Saturday and attended church Sunday morning, authorities said. After the shooting, investigators found three bags placed around the church building with various items, including extra ammunition and four Molotov cocktail-type devices.

The FBI said it was opening a hate crime investigation into the case.

The sheriff’s department released a statement late Monday saying investigators had “determined the suspect was upset about political tensions involving China and Taiwan,” but did not provide details.

In Chou’s car, Barnes said, investigators found notes written in Mandarin that indicated an obsession with Taiwan and a dislike for Taiwanese.

China regards Taiwan, a democratically governed island, as its “sacred” territory and has never renounced the possible use of force to place it under Beijing’s control.

Taiwan rejects Beijing’s sovereignty claims, saying it is already independent and only its 23 million people can decide their future.

All the victims – whose names have not been released – were of Asian origin.

The gun violence in California came the same day as a separate mass shooting at a grocery store in a predominantly black neighborhood of Buffalo, New York, that left 10 dead and three injured. Most of the victims of this attack, which the FBI called an act of racially motivated violent extremism, were black. Read more

Among those killed in the Laguna Woods church shooting was a doctor, Dr. John Cheng, 52, who was shot when he tackled the gunman, Barnes said, attributing to the act Cheng’s bravery preventing more deaths.

Subduing Chou gave other worshipers, including a pastor, the opportunity to subdue him and tie his legs with an electric cord, restraining him until sheriff’s deputies arrived and broke the chains off the doors. .

Chou, who remains in custody, allegedly acted alone, Barnes said. He legally purchased two firearms used in the attack in Las Vegas, where he rented a room in a shared house. He will likely be charged with one count of murder, five counts of attempted murder and four counts of unlawful possession of explosives at an arraignment scheduled for Tuesday, the Orange County prosecutor told reporters. , Todd Spitzer.

The injured, four men ages 66 to 92 and an 86-year-old woman, were taken to area hospitals for treatment, the sheriff’s department said.

The shooting unfolded during a lunch reception hosted by the Taiwan Presbyterian Church congregation for a former pastor who had left the United States and moved to Taiwan but returned for a visit, Tom Cramer, head of the presbytery of Los Ranchos and former pastor of the Geneva hospital. Presbyterian Church, said in an interview.

Spitzer said he is considering seeking the death penalty in the case, although California has not executed a prisoner in more than a decade. Spitzer said he visited the church social hall on Sunday to see the carnage for himself.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen was deeply concerned about the incident and asked the island’s foreign ministry to help the victims and their families, the ministry said Tuesday.

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Reporting by Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento, California, Kanishka Singh in Washington and Andrew Hay in New Mexico; Additional reporting by Yimou Lee in Taipei; Editing by Jonathan Oatis, Heather Timmons and Rosalba O’Brien

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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