David Chou’s court appearance lasted around five minutes on Tuesday as he appeared before a judge from a distance.
His arraignment date was due to be announced on Tuesday, but has been postponed until June 10. He is currently being held without bond.
Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer announced the charges against Chou at a press conference on Tuesday.
Along with the first-degree murder charge for the death of 52-year-old John Cheng, Chou also faces five counts of attempted murder and four counts of possession of a destructive device with intent to kill or injure.
Prosecutors are also asking for an enhancement to “wait.”
Those charges could carry a maximum sentence of death or life in prison without the possibility of parole, Spitzer said.
“We usually think of the person hiding in the bushes,” Spitzer said. “This case is about the person hiding in plain sight.”
Spitzer added that Chou was deliberate when he decided to open fire on a Taiwanese congregation that had gathered in the banquet hall of the Geneva Presbyterian Church on Sunday, May 15.
He said each case is unique and as he and his office look at the facts, Spitzer can quickly decide whether or not to seek the death penalty.
“I’m going to share with you this case is definitely a case I’m watching for death,” Spitzer said.
Authorities said Chou — a US citizen who authorities say grew up in Taiwan — was motivated by hatred of the Taiwanese people.
“Although there is currently very strong evidence that this was motivated by hate, we want to make sure that we have gathered all the evidence that supports this theory in the case,” Spitzer said, when asked. whether he would file a hate complaint. criminality.
Chou is accused of opening fire at a luncheon for members of the Taiwanese Presbyterian Church of Irvine, which worships at the Geneva Presbyterian Church in the community of Laguna Woods.
Cheng, a medic who heroically charged the shooter, was killed and five other people were injured.
Chou traveled to Orange County on Saturday and attended lunch the next day.
Although he didn’t know anyone there, he spent about an hour mingling with about 40 attendees and then carried out his plot, authorities said at a news conference.
He chained the doors and put super glue in the keyholes, authorities said.
Chou had two 9mm handguns – purchased legally years ago in Las Vegas – and three bags, containing among other things four Molotov cocktail-type incendiary devices and additional ammunition.
Authorities said Chou opened fire and in the ensuing chaos, Cheng tackled him and tried to disarm him, allowing others to step in and help him.
Parishioners ended up tying Chou up with extension cords, authorities said.
Chilling photos obtained by ABC7 show the moment Chou was subdued by heroic worshippers.
Cheng, who leaves behind a wife and two children, was shot several times during the struggle and died at the scene.
“Without Dr. Cheng’s actions, there is no doubt that there would be many more victims in this crime,” Barnes said.
LEARN MORE | Prominent OC doctor killed while trying to stop suspect from shooting at Laguna Woods church, sheriff says
The other injured victims, four men and a woman, were identified as being between the ages of 66 and 92.
They were all taken to local hospitals for treatment, including two at the Orange County Global Medical Center, which released a statement on Monday about the condition of two of the victims.
“Both patients were admitted to hospital after being treated at our trauma center. Both are in stable condition, expected to fully recover from their injuries and be discharged within the next 24 to 48 hours,” reads in part. the press release.
Police say Chou’s anger started when he was living in Taiwan, saying his “anti-Taiwan views” were not accepted. Police said officers found notes in his vehicle indicating his hatred of Taiwan.
Tensions between China and Taiwan are at their highest in decades, with Beijing stepping up its military harassment by flying fighter jets to the self-governing island. China has not ruled out the force to reunite with Taiwan, which broke away from the mainland in a civil war in 1949.
In a statement through her office, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen condemned the violence and offered her condolences to those killed and injured.
Her office said she also asked Taiwan’s chief representative to the United States, Bi-khim Hsiao, to come to California to help.
According to Taiwanese media, Chou had ties to a Chinese-backed organization opposed to Taiwanese independence, although details could not immediately be confirmed.
Meanwhile, the Laguna Woods community continues to mourn.
On Tuesday, several people were seen stopping at the church to lay flowers.
“I’m Taiwanese myself, so I felt a bit more connected to this one, and I felt like I just wanted to do my part to come here to pay my respects and say prayers to those affected,” said Ruth Cheung.
Other residents like Yuan Li said they were in shock. He said he wanted people to think about who matters most, Cheng.
“It shouldn’t be like this,” he said. “We may have different points of view, but these can be resolved in different ways. Not like this. We think [Cheng’s] the one who should be remembered, not the person who did this terrible thing. We should forget that person.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2022 KABC Television, LLC. All rights reserved.