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Taiwanese Presbyterian Church thankful for outpouring of support after deadly Laguna Woods church shooting

Members of the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church, along with Taiwanese community and local officials, gathered Saturday, May 21 in Laguna Woods to thank community members for their prayers and condolences six days after a gunman opened fire inside the church, killing one person and wounding five others.

The shooting was fueled by the gunman’s hatred of Taiwanese people, officials have said, especially in light of tensions between Taiwan and China. Speakers on Saturday condemned the violence and called for unity.

“We are undergoing the healing process,” Rev. Albany Lee said at a drizzly, late-morning news conference at Geneva Presbyterian Church, where the Taiwanese church meets. “We have asked a trauma specialist to help our surviving victims and their family members to unload the grief and anger in their heart.”

Lee also announced that Taiwanese Presbyterian Church congregations in Southern California were partnering with TPC congregations in Taiwan to fundraise in support of the children of Dr. John Cheng, 52, who officials and witnesses said was killed while trying to thwart the gunman’s attack.

“We hardly knew him, but he chose to give his own life to the people surrounding him,” Lee said.

A GoFundMe account for Dr. Cheng’s family had raised more than $642,000 as of Saturday afternoon.

Other speakers included U.S. Rep. Young Kim, Laguna Woods City Councilwoman Peggy Huang and representatives from both the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Los Angeles and the Taiwanese American Community.

In front of the church’s sign along El Toro Road were rows of flowers and photos of Dr. Cheng.

The ITPC was holding a post-service banquet honoring its former pastor, Rev. Billy Chang on Sunday, May 15 when a man, later identified as David Wenwei Chou, 68, of Las Vegas, sealed the doors shut and opened fire.

Cheng, an Aliso Viejo doctor, was killed as he charged Chou to try to stop him from shooting into the crowd, Chang said a day after the attack.

Chang said some of the people who were wounded have been released from the hospital, while others had to stay pending potential medical procedures.

Authorities said Chou was motivated by tensions between China and Taiwan, citing notes found in his car that indicated a hatred for Taiwanese people.

Chou mingled with the crowd at the luncheon, but surreptitiously had used chains, a hammer and nails and Super Glue to secure the doors so none of the parishioners could exit, authorities said. He also is accused of placing four explosive devices, which authorities described as “Molotov cocktails,” around the church.

But after Cheng charged him, the parishioners tackled Chou and hogtied him with extension cords until deputies arrived, officials said.

Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes has said Cheng’s actions likely saved dozens of lives.

Chou remains jailed with no bail on a capital murder charge, five counts of attempted murder and four counts of unlawful possession of explosives, Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said this week, adding that Chou would be eligible for the death penalty if authorities decide to pursue it.

Source: Orange County Register

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