Authorities Monday have identified the man killed when a gunman opened fire Sunday inside an Orange County church as John Cheng, a 52-year-old physician. He leaves behind a wife and two children.
Cheng was shot and killed in the attack early Sunday afternoon at Geneva Presbyterian Church in the city of Laguna Woods. Five people were injured in the shooting, four of them critically.
The five wounded victims were identified only as four men, ages 66, 92, 82 and 75, and an 86-year-old woman.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Department said Cheng was a father of two, and a well-known doctor in Laguna Niguel who specialized in sports medicine.
Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said Dr. Cheng was a hero.
The Taiwanese congregation at Geneva Presbyterian Church had gathered for a lunch celebrating a former pastor, when they spotted a man in his 60s acting strangely. Annette Arreola reports for Today in LA on May 16, 2022.
He charged at the suspect, attempted to disarm him, which allowed other people to intercede.
“Without the actions of Dr. Cheng, there is not doubt there would be numerous other deaths,” the OC Sheriff’s Department said.
Witnesses described Cheng’s heroic actions to authorities.
The announcement came the same day as authorities announced the shooter was identified as a 68-year-old Las Vegas man.
“This was a politically motivated hate incident, a grievance that this individual had between himself and the Taiwanese community,” Barnes said.
David Chou was booked on one felony count of murder and five felony counts of attempted murder.
Kristi Johnson of the FBI office in Los Angeles said evidence revealed that the suspect was motivated by “some type of hate.”
Dr. Cheng was one of the younger congregants at the church luncheon at the time, and “did everything he could to disable the assailant,” Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said.
The doors were glued and nailed shut, the sheriff said, adding the shooting as very well-thought out and methodical.
Cheng was shot, and the suspect allegedly attempted to shoot him again, but the gun jammed, Spitzer said.
“He sacrificed himself so others could live,” Spitzer said, before adding that Chou will be charged with murder.
It was “literally the meeting of good vs. evil,” Barnes said of Cheng attempting to thwart the suspect.
Chou will be charged with one count of murder with the use of a gun, special circumstances of lying in wait, five counts of attempted murder — one for each of the victims shot — four counts of unlawful possession of explosives. The suspect is eligible for life without possibility of parole, or death, Spitzer said.
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