Officials have determined the shooting at the Geneva Presbyterian Church Sunday was a "politically motivated hate crime" against the Taiwanese community.

Authorities named Chinese-born David Wenwei Chou, 68, as the suspect in the shooting, which killed one and wounded five others, and opened a federal hate crime investigation against him. Chou was detained Sunday after being restrained by Taiwanese congregants in the church.


"This is an isolated incident. Every information we have to this day shows that this individual was acting alone. And we do know, based on the evidence we collected — I'm not going to get into the details on evidence — was a politically motivated hate incident. A grievance this individual had between himself and the Taiwanese community at large," Orange County Sheriff-Coroner Don Barnes said during a press conference Monday.

Chou is an American citizen who lived in Las Vegas alone, while his wife and son reside outside of the United States, according to police. His alleged assault on the congregants was motivated by tensions between China and Taiwan, police said. China claims sovereignty over the island, but Taiwan maintains its own independent government and military and has rebuffed Chinese rule since the Chinese Civil War over 70 years ago.

Investigators found notes in Chou’s vehicle demonstrating his "hatred of the Taiwanese people," Barnes said. Chou is facing one felony count of murder and five felony counts of attempted murder and faces life without parole or death, per the sheriff's office. He is being held on a $1 million bail in the Orange County Intake Release Center and is scheduled for arraignment on Tuesday.

The Taiwanese Presbyterian Church has shared a space with the Geneva Presbyterian Church since 2009 and was having a banquet celebrating the return of a pastor from a mission trip when the shooting occurred, according to police.

So far, officials have not found a connection between Chou and any member of the church, but police noted they believe he might have attacked the church because it was the closest assembly of Taiwanese ethnic people he could find.

All five individuals who had been wounded, including four who suffered critical injuries, are expected to survive and ranged from 66 to 92 years old, per police.


During the shooting, congregant Dr. John Cheng, 52, tackled Chou and was fatally shot as a result, police said, haling his "heroic actions." Several churchgoers then tied the suspect with an extension cord, seized his firearms, and waited for officials to arrive on the scene, police noted.

"Dr. Cheng, understanding that there were elderly everywhere and they couldn't get out of the premises because the doors had been chained after others had been shot, he took it upon himself to charge across the room and to do everything he could to disable the assailant," Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said, per Fox11. "He was shot, and then there was an attempt to shoot him again. But the gun jammed, and he succumbed to his injuries. He sacrificed himself so that others could live. That irony in a church is not lost on me."