CA Church Shooter Faces 98 Charges, Could Be Sentenced to Life in Prison or Death

An Asian man who fatally shot one person and injured five more at a California-based Taiwanese American church last year faces 98 charges.

According to the United States Department of Justice, David Chou, the 69-year-old Chinese American who opened fire on people inside Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church last May, is facing federal hate crime charges, among others.

Per The Christian Post, the charges include “45 counts of obstructing free exercise of religious beliefs by force,” “45 counts of violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act by attacking the church congregants because of their actual or perceived Taiwanese national origin and Presbyterian faith,” one count of “attempting to damage or destroy a building used in interstate commerce,” one count of “carrying explosives during the commission of a federal felony offense” and six counts of “using a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence.”

Chou faces either life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death penalty if he is found guilty.

Last year, Don Barnes, Orange County Sheriff-Coroner, said that the “tragic incident was fueled by politically motivated hate.” Barnes called Orange County, “a community that celebrates diversity and takes pride in being a place people feel safe to worship, work and live.”

“While someone from outside our community has attempted to diminish these ideals through an act of violence, we remain united in our commitment to tolerance and acceptance,” Barnes added.

During the incident, 52-year-old Dr. John Cheng was killed after he tackled Chou, allowing other members of the congregation to disarm and restrain the shooter.

“Dr. Cheng was a loving family man, [a] dedicated doctor and a beloved member of our community, and we send our deepest condolences to all who knew him,” Barnes said.

Photo courtesy: Emiliano Bar/Unsplash

Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.