David Chou, a 68-year-old U.S. citizen born in Taiwan, interrupted a gathering of Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church, hosted by Geneva Presbyterian Church. As reported by AP, Chou spoke with congregants for about an hour before he started shooting. Dr. John Cheng tackled Chou, and other members subdued him. Unfortunately, Dr. Cheng was fatally shot as he intervened. Chou injured five other members in the attack.
Bob Fu, President and Founder of ChinaAid Association, commented on the tragedy:
ChinaAid condemns this violent attack and prays for the Taiwanese believers affected in Laguna Woods. I grieve with the family of Dr. John Cheng, a Christian physician whose heroism undoubtedly saved the lives of many others.
Louis Huang of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Los Angeles confirmed to authorities that David Chou was born in Taiwan. Chou’s parents were born in China and moved to Taiwan during the onset of the Communist takeover. Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes believed that Chou’s time in Taiwan cultivated hatred for the country. When he lived in the United States, Chou joined “peaceful reunification” groups online, which do not recognize Taiwan as a free democratic country. This fact, as well as several “handwritten notes” found by police, lead authorities to believe that the crime was politically motivated.
Relations between Taiwan and China strained in the last year. The Russia-Ukraine conflict leaves many to wonder how China will proceed. Meanwhile, recent changes to the State Department’s fact sheet on Taiwan suggest a policy shift for the United States.
The Presbyterian Church in Taiwan remains one of the most outspoken groups for Taiwanese independence, which some speculate is another reason for Chou’s choice of his target.