The Las Vegas man accused of firing multiple rounds at the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, California, in May has pleaded not guilty.
David Wenwei Chou, 68, was previously charged with one count of murder and five counts of attempted murder with hate crime enhancements in June. On Aug. 19, he pleaded not guilty to the multiple charges against him.
Chou allegedly drove all the way from Las Vegas and socialized with some of the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church’s members in the 24000 block of El Toro Road for about an hour before opening fire during a lunch banquet on May 15. The shooting killed Orange County doctor John Cheng and left five others wounded.
Authorities have described the shooting as a politically motivated hate incident, citing his anger towards the political tensions between China and Taiwan.
The suspect previously sent a flash drive and seven photocopied volumes of his personal journal titled “Diary of an Angel Destroying Independence” to the Los Angeles offices of the World Journal before the attack. The title is a reference to the self-governance of Taiwan, which the Chinese Communist Party declared a part of China and belongs under Chinese rule. Investigators previously found notes in Chou’s car that showed his hatred of the Taiwanese people.
Chou was ordered to be held without bail at the Theo Lacy jail facility. He reportedly appeared in a Santa Ana courtroom wearing black-rimmed glasses, a face mask and a yellow jail jumpsuit while stationed in a caged area during his arraignment.
He was assisted with a Mandarin interpreter through a headset, but he reportedly had difficulty understanding. He is expected back in court for a pre-trial hearing on Oct. 21.
The 68-year-old suspect could face the death penalty if he is convicted of all charges.
Featured Image via CBS Los Angeles