David Chou
Booking photo of David Chou. Courtesy Orange County Sheriff

The man who allegedly killed a doctor and injured five others at a Taiwanese church in Orange County was a U.S. citizen born in China who hated Taiwan and drove from Las Vegas armed with guns, chains and numerous Molotov cocktails, authorities said on Monday.

David Chou, 68, allegedly chained shut the doors where up to 40 people were attending a luncheon in honor of a former pastor of the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church and began firing at congregants, Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said Monday.

Barnes said the violent assault Sunday afternoon at the Geneva Presbyterian Church in the retirement community of Laguna Woods was motivated by Chou’s hatred of Taiwan and recent tensions between Taiwan and mainland China.

“This is a manifestation of the ugliest part of our humanity that exists in our country today,” Barnes said at a news conference on Monday, also referencing the weekend’s racially motivated mass shooting in Buffalo, New York.

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

Dr. John Cheng, 52, a physician with South Bay Medical Group in Aliso Viejo, was killed when he charged the gunman and attempted to disarm him, Barnes said. Cheng is survived by his wife and two children.

“Dr. Cheng is a hero in this incident,” Barnes said, adding that the doctor’s actions bought time for other parishioners to subdue the suspect and eventually hogtie him.

“Without the actions of Dr. Cheng, there is no doubt there would be additional victims in this crime,” Barnes said.

Barnes said four incendiary devices, similar to Molotov cocktails, were placed inside the church, and investigators also found bags of additional ammunition.

The sheriff said investigators have determined the shooting was an isolated incident carried out solely by the suspect.

Four other men of Asian descent aged 66 to 92 and an 86-year-old woman of Asian descent were injured in the mass shooting. Their names have not yet been released.

Updated at 1:45 p.m., Monday, May 16, 2022

Reuters and City News Service contributed to this article.

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.