California church mass shooter charged with 90 federal hate crimes

California church mass shooter charged with 90 federal hate crimes
via ABC7, KCAL News
Carl Samson
May 12, 2023
The Las Vegas man accused of killing one person and wounding five others in a mass shooting at a California church last year has been indicted on 98 federal charges, 90 of which are hate crimes.
David Chou, 69, opened fire at the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods on May 15, 2022, targeting congregants during a luncheon held in honor of a former pastor visiting from Taiwan.
Investigators believe the incident was motivated by Chou’s political hatred of Taiwan, where he was born and raised after communists forced his family out of mainland China.
He reportedly has no known prior connection to the church.
Armed with two handguns, bags of ammunition and four Molotov cocktail-style devices, Chou chained the church’s exit doors and filled their keyholes with superglue before carrying out the attack.
Dr. John Cheng, 52, charged at him and was killed in the ensuing struggle. Cheng’s heroic act allowed others to move freely and tie Chou.
Chou was subsequently arrested and charged in Orange County with one count of murder and five counts of attempted murder with hate crime enhancements, all of which he pleaded not guilty to in August 2022.
David Chou. Image via Orange County Sheriff’s Department
On Thursday, federal authorities announced that Chou was charged with 45 counts of obstructing free exercise of religious beliefs by force (resulting in the death of one and attempted killing of 44 others, and involving the use of his firearm and attempted use of his explosives).
He was also charged with 45 counts of violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act by attacking congregants based on their “actual or perceived Taiwanese national origin and Presbyterian faith.”
Additionally, he was charged with one count of attempting to damage a building, one count of carrying explosives while committing a federal felony and six counts of using a firearm while committing a violent crime.
Chou could face the death penalty if convicted of the federal charges. His state charges also carry the same punishment.
He remains in state custody.

 
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