The suspect in the mass shooting at a Taiwanese church gathering in Laguna Woods Sunday that killed one person and wounded four others was involved with a pro-China organization where a member described him as “too radical” for the group, according to media reports.
The Taipei Times in a Tuesday story said that 68-year-old David Wenwei Chou, who faces one count of capital murder and five counts of attempted murder, apparently belonged to Las Vegas Chinese for Peaceful Unification, a semi-official organization of the Chinese Communist Party.
According to an April 3, 2019 article published by the Las Vegas Chinese News Network, Chou attended the founding ceremony of the group and was an outspoken supporter of the presidential bid of former Kaohsiung, Taiwan mayor Han Kuo-yu.
The newspaper said a photo accompanying the article shows Chou, also known as Zhou Wenwei, displaying a banner at the meeting calling for the “annihilation of separatist demons,” written in Chinese.
Gu Yawen, president of the Las Vegas China Peaceful Reunification Promotion organization, told Taiwan’s Central News Agency that Chou was “uninvited” and she felt that his beliefs were too extreme, so she kept a distance from him.
After mid-2019, Chou did not participate in any of the council’s activities and from then on was no longer a member of the organization, the Central News Agency reported.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Department, which has said the attack on Taiwanese Presbyterian Church members in Laguna Woods was prompted by Chou’s grudge against Taiwan, declined to say if the suspect belonged to any pro-China organizations.
Any involvement by the suspect in an organization will be part of the investigation,” Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Carrie Braun, said. ” We are not disclosing what, if any, organizations may be involved at this time.”Chou, who sometimes referred to himself as “professor” taught in the Department of Applied Science of Living at Pingtung University of Science and Technology, but after his one-year contract expired it was not renewed, the Central News Agency reported.
Chou was born in Taiwan in 1953 and resided there before immigrating to the U.S., Louis Huang, director-general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Los Angeles has told news organizations in Taiwan.
After entering the U.S., Chou lived in numerous states including Florida and Texas before settling in Las Vegas, where he worked for various security firms and owned a four-plex off the strip.
Chou told the Las Vegas Chinese News Network in a 2012 interview that he came to Las Vegas to invest in 12 apartments and ended up managing eight of them behind the city’s convention and exhibition center.
He said in April 2012, two tenants lured him into an apartment under a ruse that were going to pay rent and then attacked him, striking him in the face and hitting him in the head with an iron, the network reported.
He told the news organization he stabbed one of the assailants with a pair of scissors before losing consciousness. The attack left Chou with 30 more than stitches to his face, a broken elbow and partial deafness in one ear, according to the network report.
Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes has said Chou drove more than 272 miles from Las Vegas to Laguna Woods on Saturday.
The following day, he went to Geneva Presbyterian Church and opened fire on a group of elderly members of the Taiwanese Presbyterian Church, who were holding a luncheon for their former pastor.
Dr. John Cheng, a family practice and sports-medicine specialist from Laguna Niguel, tackled the suspect before he was shot to death. Four other members of the church ranging in age from 66 to 92 years old were also shot but are expected to survive.
After the shooting, the congregants subdued and hogtied Chou with electrical cords while waiting for deputies to arrive.
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