A man who Orange County Sheriff's deputies say was motivated by hate due to political tensions between China and Taiwan opened fire Sunday inside a Taiwanese congregation in Laguna Woods, killing one person and injuring five others.
He is in custody on suspicion of one felony count of murder with special circumstances of "lying in wait" and five counts of attempted murder stemming from the 1:26 p.m. Sunday shooting at the Geneva Presbyterian Church at 24301 El Toro Road. He also faces four counts of unlawful possession of explosives.
Based on statements from the Orange County Sheriff and the church and interviews with witnesses, here is the series of events from that day.
Saturday, May 14, 2022
David Wenwei Chou, 68, allegedly drives 270 miles from Las Vegas, Nevada to Laguna Woods.
Sunday, May 15, 2022
The suspected gunman arrives at Geneva Presbyterian Church at 24301 El Toro Road in Laguna Woods.
He allegedly enters the sanctuary and identifies himself to the receptionist as "Da-Wei Chou."
The church receptionist doesn't recognize the man, wearing a black shirt with a word written on it in white, as he enters the sanctuary.
The receptionist welcomes him anyway and asks the man in Taiwanese to fill out a form with his personal information.
He refuses, says he had filled out the form before, and claims he had attended services there before.
He then allegedly sits in the back of the sanctuary reading a Chinese-language newspaper focusing on Taiwan news, during the church service.
Church service ends.
After a short break, adult Sunday School begins. The church does not believe the gunman attended Sunday School.
Adult Sunday School ends.
A lunch banquet honoring a former pastor, visiting from Taiwan, takes place with around 140 people.
During the banquet, the gunman then allegedly closed doors with chains and put Super Glue into the locks. At some point, bags with extra magazines, filled with more ammunition, and "four Molotov cocktail-like incendiary devices" are placed in the room.
Near the end of lunch congregants begin leaving. As they walk through the doors, they see the suspect wrapping iron chains to lock the doors.
The gunman allows some churchgoers to leave. Some ask him about his actions, but he refuses to answer. Some assume he's a church security guard.
He allegedly uses a hammer and nails to secure two exits.
He then allegedly fires a bullet into the ceiling.
Dr. John Cheng tries to intervene, charging the gunman in an attempt to disarm him. He is shot and killed.
Five other people are shot, a 66-year-old man; a 92-year-old man; an 82-year-old man; a 75-year-old man; and an 86-year-old woman.
The suspected gunman tries to reload his gun. Pastor Chang hits him with a chair, allowing other parishioners to intervene.
Other congregants confiscate the gunman's weapons and hogtie his arms and legs with an extension cord.
Deputies arrive minutes later with weapons drawn and take the suspect into custody.