A Nevada man has been charged with 98 federal criminal counts, including hate crimes and weapons and explosives offenses, for a 2022 mass shooting and attempted bombing at an Orange County church that killed one person and wounded five others.
David Chou, 69, of Las Vegas, faces the death sentence or life in prison without the possibility of parole over the shooting at Geneva Presbyterian Church, a Taiwanese congregation in Laguna Woods, the Department of Justice announced Thursday.
Laguna Woods is a city in Orange County bordered by Laguna Hills and Lake Forest. It is located about 10 miles from University of California Irvine.
In addition to the victims who were shot, Chou was charged with trying to kill 44 other people who were in the church at the time.
“Chou allegedly acted because of the victims’ national origin and religion, and he intentionally obstructed the victims’ religious exercise,” the Department of Justice said.
A federal grand jury in Santa Ana voted to indict Chou on Wednesday, the DOJ added.
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 victims because of their actual or perceived Taiwanese national origin and Presbyterian faith, six counts of using a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence, one count of attempting to damage or destroy a building used in interstate commerce by means of fire and explosives, and one count of carrying explosives during the commission of a federal felony offense.
Chou allegedly placed extra weapons, ammunition and “Molotov cocktail-like incendiary devices” in the church.
The deceased was Dr. John Cheng, who tackled the gunman. Parishioners prevented further tragedy by hog-tying Chou with an extension cord until police arrived.
Source: NBC Los Angeles
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