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Church shooting suspect tied to pro-China group
REACHING OUT: President Tsai expressed condolences to the deceased man’s family and wished a speedy recovery to those who were wounded in the shooting
” By Lee Hsin-fang, Su Yung-yao and William Hetherington / Staff reporters, with staff writer and CNA
The Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA) on Monday called on the US to label organizations associated with the suspect in the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church shooting as domestic terrorists, following accusations that he was a member of a group backing unification with ties to the Chinese government. Internet users have accused Chou of involvement in Las Vegas Chinese for Peaceful Unification, a semi-official organization of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), with branches in several countries…https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2022/05/18/2003778385

California Church Shooting Reveals Little-Known Tension Between 2 Groups of Taiwanese May 18, 2022 2:15 AM by Ralph Jennings
Hilary Wu of Orange County, California, comes from a family who lived in Taiwan for hundreds of years. Her boyfriend identifies as a descendent of a wave of people from China who were exiled to Taiwan in the 1940s under the Chinese Nationalist government as the Communists took over mainland China.

But Wu, 40, and her boyfriend discussed that difference only once, over dinner. It doesn’t matter to them. “We’re very different in how we grew up, and we’re different people, but that doesn’t affect our values, our morals,” said Wu, a hospital dietician who moved to California with her parents when she was a child.

But the two groups’ historical differences and ongoing tensions became evident outside of Taiwan on Sunday when a gunman opened fire at a Taiwanese Presbyterian church gathering in Southern California, where Wu lives. The suspected shooter was born and raised in Taiwan and had ties to pro-China groups, Taiwanese media outlets say. https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2022/05/18/2003778385

The parishioners he is accused of shooting descended from families who had lived in Taiwan for centuries.

Authorities said David Wenwei Chou, 68, of Las Vegas, was arrested and accused of killing one man, 52-year-old Dr. John Cheng, who tackled the suspect, allowing others to subdue him, according to The Associated Press. Five others were injured.

Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes cited a grievance between the shooter, a U.S. citizen, and the Taiwanese community. The suspect “was upset about political tensions involving China and Taiwan,” the sheriff’s department said in a statement on Monday.

British Presbyterians who reached Taiwan in 1865 made strong connections with local Taiwanese and advocated the island’s independence from China, author-historian Christine Louise Lin wrote in her book “The Presbyterian Church in Taiwan and the Advocacy of Local Autonomy.”

“I don’t like to think of this as a hate crime, but it’s a hate crime,” Wu said. “There’s a political aspect in the (background), but this person is also crazy. I was very shocked to find out it’s another Asian American taking something out on Taiwanese Americans.”

Taiwan’s domestic differences

The divide has influenced domestic politics, education and other facets of life in Taiwan since the 1940s.

In 1949, Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist government fled mainland China and took control of the island after fleeing Mao Zedong’s Communists in the Chinese civil war. The Nationalists kept Taiwan under authoritarian rule until democratizing in the 1980s.

Taiwanese with hundreds of years of history on the island, also identified as “benshengren,” favor today’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party. That party opposes pledges by the modern Chinese government to capture the island by force if needed. The Nationalists, or “waishengren,” many who hail from China and settled in Taiwan with Chiang, take a more conciliatory stance toward China.

Paul Yang, 52, a Taiwanese-born real estate agency owner in Orange County, has lived in the United States for 31 years and knows people connected to the church where the shooting occurred. The president of the Taiwanese Chamber of Commerce of Orange County, Yang says his 200 members seldom discuss politics in public settings.

Yang still identifies as a benshengren but says he seldom hears the term anymore.

“When I go back to Taiwan and talk to younger generations, the terms ‘bensheng’ and ‘waisheng’ are not as commonly used as when I was a kid,” he said.

The two groups of Taiwanese people have no “real issues” in the United States, said Chien Minze, president of the Washington-based Taiwan advocacy organization Formosan Association for Public Affairs. He knows of no other U.S. incident like the shooting. “We respect each other,” he said, referring to the two groups. “There is nothing like we have (to) go to this extreme.”

Rekindling friction in Taiwan

In Taiwan, the shooting will likely make people think about the divide again, said Chao Chien-min, dean of social sciences at Chinese Cultural University in Taipei. Domestic news reports will focus on that angle, he predicted, and the island’s political parties might bring it up on their own.

“What I’m worried about is this: The incident in California will strengthen a vicious cycle,” Chao said. “This shooting was politically motivated to start with, and the interpretation of it in Taiwan is that it’s political. Everything related to Taiwan-mainland China relations is politicized.”

The ruling party of Taiwan said in a social media statement that it “condemned” any form of violence but did not elaborate on the political angle.

Sunday’s shooting may alarm the Taiwanese about fringe political activists who have mainland Chinese sympathies and support unifying Taiwan and China, said Sean Su, an independent political analyst in Taiwan. Su said followers of a pro-China group broke his windows when he was living in New York 15 years ago.

“These groups tend to be radicalized in the United States,” Su said. “A lot of Taiwanese groups have undergone a lot of harassment and undergone lot of threats from these pro-China unification groups over the years.”

Unanswered questions

Peggy Huang, a Taiwanese American City Council member in Yorba Linda, a suburban city near the shooting site, called politics a likely “oversimplification” of reasons behind the shooting. She wonders particularly how a suspect from Las Vegas picked a church in Laguna Woods for his assault. The city of 16,000 is attractive to retirees, and Taiwanese churches operate in other parts of Orange County.

“He might no doubt have some hateful feeling toward Taiwanese people,” said Huang. “But for him to specifically come to this church? This is not an easy church to find. That’s the topic of conversation among us.” https://www.voanews.com/a/california-church-shooting-reveals-little-known-tension-between-2-groups-of-taiwanese-/6578091.html

EST. 1889
On Monday, May 16, C Sheriff investigators released additional details about the 68-year-old man arrested on suspicion of entering a Laguna Woods church and shooting multiple victims during a lunch banquet, including evidence that points to a methodical plan devised by the suspect to carry out his crimes.

On Sunday, May 15, 2022, investigators arrested David Chou, 68, of Las Vegas, on suspicion of murder and attempted murder after he entered Geneva Presbyterian Church in the 24000 block of El Toro Road and fired multiple rounds, striking six victims. At the time of the shooting, members of the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church, which has had a space at the church since 2009, were having a lunch banquet to welcome a pastor who had recently returned from Taiwan.

Five victims sustained gunshot wounds and were taken to local hospitals for treatment. The sixth victim, identified as Dr. John Cheng, 52, of Laguna Nigel, sustained multiple gunshot wounds when he intervened and tackled the suspect, allowing other church members to detain the suspect. The victims also were able to tie his legs with extension cords and confiscate two handguns from the suspect. Dr. Cheng, who was attending the lunch banquet with his mother, was pronounced deceased at the scene.

“Dr. Cheng was a loving family man, dedicated doctor and a beloved member of our community, and we send our deepest condolences to all who knew him,” said Don Barnes, Orange County Sheriff-Coroner. “There is no doubt that Dr. Cheng’s actions that day saved the lives of many other church members. He is a hero and will be remembered by this community as such.”

Deputies arrived at the scene, arrested the suspect and provided lifesaving measures until paramedics with the Orange County Fire Authority arrived to provide advanced critical care. Investigators believe the suspect may have traveled to the Southern California area on Saturday, May 14, 2022, and came to the church Sunday morning. During the lunch, the suspect is believed to have secured the doors to the building with chains and placed superglue into the keyholes. He then started shooting inside the building.

Investigators located three bags strategically placed in the building containing various items, including additional ammunition and four Molotov cocktail-type devices. The incendiary devices were collected by the OC Sheriff Hazardous Devices Section and will be analyzed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

OC Sheriff investigators worked with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department to serve a search warrant on the suspect’s residence. Investigators currently are processing multiple items of evidence, including electronic devices. In addition, evidence was collected from the suspect’s vehicle, which was located in the church parking lot.

Based on preliminary findings of the investigation, evidence collected, and statements from the suspect, investigators were able to connect the suspect to the shooting. It also was determined the suspect was upset about political tensions involving China and Taiwan.

“It appears this tragic incident was fueled by politically motivated hate, and that is something we do not tolerate,” Barnes said.”Orange County is a community that celebrates diversity and takes pride in being a place people feel safe to worship, work and live. While someone from outside our community has attempted to diminish these ideals through an act of violence, we remain united in our commitment to tolerance and acceptance.”

Additional evidence is still being processed and the investigation is ongoing. The Sheriff’s Department continues to work with the Orange County Fire Authority, ATF, and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) on this incident.”https://twitter.com/OCSheriff/status/1526588921810931713