LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The Las Vegas man accused of a mass shooting at a Southern California church is now facing hate crime charges. 68-year-old David Chou is already facing a first-degree murder charge and other allegations. A valley Taiwanese American says this is an appropriate step.
“It hurts deep, and it’s something that we’re all thinking, how to make sure this never happens again.”
The mass shooting of a Taiwanese Presbyterian church in southern California cuts deep for valley Taiwanese American, Eric Jeng. His family has close ties.
“It hit very close to home being a part of it. My parents are also pastors and missionaries in Taiwan,” he said.
The suspected shooter David Chou of Las Vegas facing a first-degree murder charge and multiple attempted murder charges after killing Dr. John Cheng and injuring several others. The Orange County District Attorney’s office filing new hate crime charges against Chou. Prosecutors saying chou killed dr. Cheng due to his "his race, color, religion, nationality, or country of origin”. Chou was born and raised in Taiwan before becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen.
“The shooter targeted the church from everything we’ve read based on their Taiwanese American identity,” Jeng said.
In Las Vegas, Chou had ties to groups advocating for Taiwan and China to be one country, seen supporting a presidential candidate favoring that view. Members of the Las Vegas Taiwanese Association saying he at times expressed views critical of Taiwan having a distinct identity. Investigators saying there were notes in his car that expressed “hatred for the Taiwanese people.” Jeng says the hate crime charges makes sense.
“The shooter actually sent out a manifesto beforehand. When committed, it was something premeditated,” he said.
He says this shooting is based off of geopolitical grievances of an older generation coupled with the issue of American gun violence. What saddens Jeng is the fact that both the suspected shooter and victims were all immigrants.
“Whatever the shooter did was everything against the American dream,” he said.
Jeng says political differences should be respected and believes the Taiwanese American community will be able to come together and heal.
“We move forward. Build it safer for a place that replaces the hatred and being able to call each other neighbors, call each other friends,” he said.
Chou is scheduled to be back in court in August. He remains in jail without bail and could face the death penalty.