California shooting suspect could face death penalty, prosecutors say
California shooting suspect David Chou mailed 7-volume diary to Chinese-language newspaper before attack
- Alleged gunman David Chou dubbed himself a ‘destroying angel’ in a voluminous diary sent to the World Journal newspaper
- Chou was charged with murder and attempted murder after opening fire at a Taiwanese church in Southern California
A man charged with fatally shooting one person and injuring five others at a Taiwanese church in Laguna Woods mailed seven volumes titled “Diary of an Independence-Destroying Angel” to the Los Angeles offices of the World Journal, the Chinese-language newspaper reported.
The newspaper said it had sent the documents to law enforcement and would not be printing their contents.
Maxwell Lin, a lawyer for the World Journal, confirmed that the newspaper received the documents Tuesday morning. The mailing label listed David Chou’s name as well as an address from his hometown of Las Vegas, he told The Los Angeles Times.
Lin said he doesn’t believe anyone with the paper has fully read through the documents – and that he hasn’t reviewed them either. He said he got the documents Wednesday morning and “am wondering what we do”.
Lin could not confirm that the information had been shared with law enforcement.
Investigators were aware of the reports that the journals were sent to the newspaper, according to Orange County sheriff’s spokesperson Carrie Braun. She did not know if the sheriff’s department or FBI had taken possession of them as of Wednesday afternoon.
Chou could face life in prison or the death penalty if convicted of murder and attempted murder. He has not yet entered a plea and remained jailed without bail in Orange County pending a June 10 arraignment.
County District Attorney Todd Spitzer has said Chou was motivated by hatred for Taiwan, where he was born after his family was forced from mainland China when Communists prevailed in a civil war that ended in 1949.
He apparently chose the church at random and didn’t know anyone there before he drove to California from Las Vegas on Saturday, authorities said.
Authorities have said Chou sat through a church service before attending the lunch in honour of a former pastor, where he mingled with the parishioners for about 40 minutes before chaining and nailing shut exit doors and opening fire.
When the gunfire erupted, Dr John Cheng, 52, charged Chou and was shot but authorities said he disrupted the attack and may have saved dozens of lives.
The former pastor, Billy Chang, then picked up a chair and threw it at Chou, who fell on the floor. Chang said he rushed at Chou and several congregation members held Chou down and tied him up.
Chou was armed with two legally purchased 9mm handguns and concealed bags holding ammunition and four Molotov cocktail-style devices in the church hall where the lunch was being held, authorities said.
The wounded ranged in age from 66 to 92 and were expected to survive.
The shooting shook Southern California’s Taiwanese community.
“I am starting to worry about our people,” Dr Simon Lin, a leader at the Taiwan Centre Foundation of Los Angeles, said at a news conference. “The Taiwan Centre is very friendly. It’s open to the public. We never check your background.”
The small community centre lacks the budget to hire full-time security, he added.
Louis M. Huang, director general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Los Angeles, said he has confidence in US law enforcement to carry out the investigation and that justice would be served.
He called on Taiwanese Americans to respect differences in opinion but said no one has a right to infringe on other people’s rights or to take someone’s life.
He urged community members to report to the police if they see something that concerns them.
“Don’t keep silent,” he said.
Additional reporting by Associated Press