The man accused of shooting six people in a Laguna Woods church on Sunday, killing one and injuring five, is set to make his first court appearance on Tuesday.
Officials say the gunman, 68-year-old David Wenwei Chou, drove from his home in Las Vegas to Geneva Presbyterian Church in Orange County, with the plan to kill all of the members of the congregation.
The shooting was a “politically motivated hate incident,” OC Sheriff Don Barnes said at a news conference on Monday. “It is believed the suspect was upset about political tensions between China and Taiwan.”
The church is a Taiwanese congregation.
The suspected gunman was booked on one felony count of murder with the use of a gun, enhanced with special circumstances of “lying in wait;” five counts of attempted murder, and four counts of unlawful possession of explosives.
The man placed extra weapons, ammunition and “molotov cocktail-like incendiary devices” in the church, leading investigators to believe the incident would have been far more deadly without the brave and heroic actions of parishioners, and 52-year-old Dr. John Cheng, who was killed while charging the gunman.
The suspected gunman is being held in lieu of $1 million bail.
The suspect immigrated to the U.S. from China, according to officials, and investigators say he was carrying notes about his hatred towards Taiwanese people.
The president of Taiwan on Tuesday expressed her condolences to the victims of the shooting.
“I want to convey my sincere condolences on the death of Dr. John Cheng & my hopes for a prompt recovery of those injured in the shooting at the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church in California,” Tsai Ing-wen said in a statement on Twitter. “Violence is never the answer.”
The suspected gunman faces life in prison without parole or death if convicted on the above charges. The Orange County District Attorney says they have yet to decide whether they will seek the death penalty for the suspected shooter.