Posted on: June 17, 2022, 03:54h.
Last update: June 17, 2022, 4:43 a.m.
David Chou, who was previously charged with murder and other counts for the California church shooting last month, now faces hate crimes. The former Las Vegas security guard killed one person and injured five others.
News of the additional charge was announced on Friday by prosecutors in Orange County in California. He was also previously charged with five counts of attempted murder. The other charges include four counts of possessing an explosive device, waiting and personally discharging a firearm causing death.
If found guilty on all counts, Chou could face execution, the Los Angeles Times reported. He remains behind bars without bail. Earlier this month, he appeared in Orange County Superior Court.
Superior Court Judge Cynthia Herrera delayed his arraignment until August 19. He has not yet pleaded guilty.
Hate crime explained
Hate crime charges require prosecutors to prove that the accused has certain motives. When Chou allegedly killed Dr. John Cheng, 52, in the church during the May 15 shooting, it was motivated by race, color, religion, nationality or country of origin, the Time reported, based on prosecutors’ statements. The victims of the shootings were mostly Asian and mostly of Taiwanese origin, the Time added.
The shootings were also a “politically motivated hate incident,” according to Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes. Chou “specifically targeted the Taiwanese community,” authorities said.
Chou does not believe Taiwan should remain an independent nation from China, authorities have revealed. Chou grew up in Taiwan, the Time added.
The shooting took place during a Taiwanese Presbyterian Church luncheon held at the Geneva Presbyterian Church, located in Laguna Woods, California.
The Taiwanese congregation is said to be in favor of Taiwanese independence. Church services used a Taiwanese dialect in the liturgy, instead of the Mandarin Chinese dialect, the Time added.
Chou was armed with two 9-millimeter handguns, additional ammunition and four Molotov cocktail-type explosives during the attack, the report adds. He chained the doors of the church.
When the shooting took place, Cheng and others at the luncheon returned fire. One person used a chair to subdue Chou. Chou was also tied up with an electrical cord until police arrived.
Links to Las Vegas
Chou was once a security guard on the Las Vegas Strip, KSNV, reported a local television station. It was not immediately clear for sure where he worked on the main gaming thoroughfare.
A source told the Time he worked for a company that provided security for the Sands and Venetian casinos.
He had a Nevada security guard license, reports said. He worked for five security companies in Nevada between 2014 and 2021, according to a document released by The Times reporter.
Chou once co-owned the building where he lived, located near Twain Avenue and Decatur Boulevard, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He sold it later. Chou may have been living in his car for the past few months, KSNV reported.