Authorities in Southern California say a man who opened fire at a church on Sunday, killing one and injuring five others, was a Chinese immigrant motivated by hate against Taiwanese people.
“I will tell you that evil was in that church yesterday,” said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer, adding there is a lot of evidence that the suspect “had an absolute bias against the Taiwanese people, its country, as a Chinese or mainland national.”
Police say 68-year-old David Chou entered the Taiwanese Presbyterian Church in the city of Laguna Woods, 46 miles (74 kilometers) southeast of Los Angeles, and opened fire in the middle of the congregation.
“I knew someone was shooting,” said church member Jerry Chen, who heard the gunshots from a different room. “I was very, very scared. I ran out the kitchen door to call 911."
Chen says people started screaming and running for cover, but police say if it was not for the heroism of 52-year-old John Cheng, who charged at the shooter to disarm him and was killed in the process, the situation could have been much worse.
“He took it upon himself to charge across the room and to do everything he could to disable the assailant,” said Spitzer.
Police say that allowed other churchgoers to intervene. They say a pastor hit the gunman on the head with a chair, then parishioners hog-tied him with electrical cords until police arrived.
“That group of churchgoers displayed what we believe is exceptional heroism,” said the Orange County Sheriff’s Department in a statement.
Chou was booked on one count of murder and five counts of attempted murder. Police say the suspect lawfully purchased the two 9mm pistols in Las Vegas and had also placed four Molotov cocktail-like devices inside the church during the rampage./aa