Hero Doctor mourned at church shooting site – NBC Los Angeles

Members of the Taiwan Presbyterian Church in Irvine and Taiwan American community leaders gathered to mourn Saturday at the church where a gunman opened fire last weekend, killing a doctor who went attacked the shooter and probably saved lives.

Dr. John Cheng and his heroic actions were remembered during a prayer at the start of Saturday’s gathering at the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods. Cheng was killed as he tried to protect others in the church when gunfire erupted during a lunch after morning service last Sunday.

The shooting, which was allegedly carried out by a 68-year-old Las Vegas man, was an incident motivated by political hatred, Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said.

Taiwan’s president has condemned the shooting at a Taiwanese church in Orange County after authorities said on Monday the suspect was motivated by hatred of the island.

President Tsai Ing-wen’s office released a statement on Tuesday saying it condemned ‘all forms of violence’, offered condolences to those killed and injured and asked the island’s chief representative to the United States to travel to California to help.

The nature of the suspect’s grievance was not immediately clear. He faces a murder charge with an allegation of special waiting circumstances that would make him eligible for the death penalty or at least life in prison without the possibility of parole, if convicted.

Investigators said the suspect drove from Las Vegas and arrived in Southern California on Saturday before heading to church Sunday morning.

Police said he hid firebombs before the shooting at a gathering of mostly elderly Taiwanese parishioners after morning service. A Laguna Niguel doctor, whom authorities hailed as a hero for charging the shooter, was killed and five people were injured.

A federal hate crimes investigation is also underway.

Investigators say the shooting at an Orange County church on Sunday was motivated by hate. Darsha Philips reports for NBC4 News at 7 p.m. May 16, 2022.

China claims Taiwan as its own territory to be annexed by force if necessary and regularly denounces Tsai, his ruling Democratic Progressive Party and their foreign supporters in increasingly violent terms. 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.

The suspect, a US citizen, was born in Taiwan in 1953, Taiwan’s Central News Agency reported, citing the head of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Los Angeles, Taiwan’s de facto consulate in the city.

In Taiwan, DPP MK Lin Ching-yi said “ideology has become a reason for genocide” in a post on her Facebook page. Lin said Taiwanese must ‘confront hate speech and organizations’ backed by China’s ruling Communist Party, pointing to the United Front Work Department which seeks to advance China’s political agenda in Taiwan and among overseas Chinese communities.

Asked about the political leanings reported by the suspect, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Beijing had “taken note of the relevant information”, the Associated Press reported.

“We hope the US government will take effective measures to address the worsening gun violence problem at home,” Wang told reporters at a daily press briefing.

The United States is Taiwan’s main political and military ally, although it does not extend the island’s official diplomatic relations out of respect for Beijing.

Bi-khim Hsiao, Taiwan’s de facto ambassador, tweeted on Monday that she was “shocked and saddened by the fatal shooting at the Taiwanese Presbyterian Church in Irvine, California.”

“I join the families of the victims and the grieving Taiwanese American communities and pray for the speedy recovery of the injured survivors,” Hsiao wrote.

The suspect’s hatred of the island, documented in handwritten notes authorities found, appears to have started when he felt he was not being treated well while living there.

The suspect’s family appears to be among an estimated 1 million mainland Chinese refugees who moved to Taiwan around the time the Communists came to power on the mainland in 1949.

The former Japanese colony had not been handed over to Nationalist Chinese rule until 1945 at the end of World War II, and relations between mainlanders and ethnic Taiwanese were often strained.

Separated by language and lifestyle, incidents of intimidation and confrontation between the parties were frequent.

Many mainland youths, concentrated in major cities, have joined violent organized crime gangs linked to the Chinese military and secret societies, in part to defend themselves against their Taiwanese rivals.

The Presbyterian Church is the largest of the Christian denominations in Taiwan and was closely identified with the pro-democracy movement for decades of the martial law era and later with the cause of Taiwan independence.

NBCLA’s Jonathan Lloyd contributed to this report.

Jerry B. Hatch