The man charged with killing one person and injuring five others after a Taiwanese service at Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, California, was once a member of a U.S.-based group controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.
The Orange County Sheriff's Department said the shooting by the alleged gunman, 68-year-old David Wenwei Chou of Las Vegas, was “a politically motivated hate incident." Sheriff Don Barnes said the suspect “was upset about political tensions between China and Taiwan.”
Barnes also indicated that the suspect, who wasn't a regular attendee and had no known ties or affiliation with the church, secured the doors within the church with chains and tried to disable the locks with superglue before he opened fire.
Ties to the CCP's United FrontChou, a native of Taiwan, has close ties to the China Council for the Promotion of Peaceful National Reunification (CCPPNR), an entity under Beijing’s United Front Work Department (UFWD), a powerful Chinese Communist Party (CCP) agency charged with overseeing foreign influence operations.
The CCPPNR was founded by the CCP in 1988. Its primary mission, as stated on its website, is countering separatist movements such as those calling for Taiwan's independence. The CCP considers Taiwan to be part of its territory, even though the regime has never ruled the self-governed island.
CCPPNR Las Vegas Chapter President Gu Yawen said that Chou left the local chapter in the second half of 2019. An old report containing a photo of Chou on the chapter's founding day was no longer available on its website.
CondemnationBarnes said Cheng charged at the suspect and attempted to disarm him before he was fatally wounded, buying time for other witnesses to subdue the shooter.
"Without the actions of Dr. Cheng, [there] is no doubt that there would be numerous additional victims in this crime,” he said.
Taiwan’s official representative in Los Angeles, Louis M. Huang, condemned the act of hate and violence, expressed his condolences to the families of the victims, and said assistance to the victims’ families is already on the way.
“Respect each other, rule of law, is what’s shared in Taiwan,” Huang said.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen also offered her sincere condolences on Cheng's death and her hopes for a prompt recovery of those who were injured in the shooting.