Hero Pastor Describes How Elderly Congregation Helped Stop California Church Shooter

The pastor hailed as a hero for helping stop a gunman from taking extra lives at a California church described how the mostly elderly congregation got past the shooter.

About 50 people had gathered at Geneva Presbyterian Church, a Taiwanese congregation in Laguna Woods, California, about 50 miles southeast of Los Angeles, on Sunday afternoon for a banquet to welcome the reverend’s return Billy Chang from a trip to Taiwan, Chang said. ABC News.

But a gunman angered by China-Taiwan tensions, David Chou, a 68-year-old Las Vegas resident, was also present and tried to secure the doors inside with chains, the sheriff said Monday. of Orange County, Don Barnes. Chou also tried to disable the locks on the church with superglue, Barnes said.

Chang was on the podium taking photos when he saw the shooter randomly shooting worshipers, he described in a statement on Monday.

The parishioners were able to escape through the only door Chou would not have locked, and when he stopped to reload, Chang and Dr. John Cheng, a prominent sports physician, sprang into action.

Cheng, 52, charged the suspect and attempted to disarm him by allowing others to intervene, Barnes said. Chang grabbed a chair and threw it at the shooter, pushing him to the ground, he said.

“I was in shock during these events,” Chang said in the statement.

Several of the surrounding worshipers then swarmed the shooter, Chang said.

The group of worshipers arrested Chou, tying his legs with an extender and confiscating two handguns before more people could be shot, said Jeff Hallock, deputy sheriff of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. . Others called 911 while the restraint was taking place, Chang said.

“This group of worshipers displayed exceptional heroism, heroism and bravery in intervening or intervening to arrest the suspect,” Hallock said.

Most of the worshipers were elderly, officials said, and the injured victims were between the ages of 66 and 92.

Cheng was shot and killed during the chaos, and five others suffered gunshot wounds, Barnes said. Investigators believe more people would have been shot but for Cheng’s actions, Barnes said.

“The majority of those present were elderly and acted spontaneously, heroically,” Barnes said. “There would have been many, many more lives lost had it not been for the concerted effort of the members of this church.”

Chang, through tears, asked for prayers for Cheng’s family and for the congregation.

“Thank you for your continued concern and prayers,” Chang told ABC News. “While my return to the United States, church worship and lunch were [a] joyful occasion, the events that followed left a deep impression on the community and on me.”

Chou, who is Chinese but an American citizen, is being held on $1 million bail, according to prison records. He is expected to be charged with one count of murder and five counts of attempted murder, authorities said.

Authorities believe Chou’s anger began when he was living in Taiwan, where he felt like an outsider, and his anti-Taiwan views were not accepted, Barnes said.

Chou’s wife and son still live in Taiwan, but Chou has lived alone in the United States for many years, Barnes said, adding that Chou’s views have become more radical as tensions between China and Taiwan have escalated. intensified.

China has long considered Taiwan to be part of its country, while Taiwan has governed itself as an independent nation since Chinese nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek fled the mainland when the Chinese Communist Party came to power in 1949.

The FBI has opened a federal hate crime investigation into the shooting.

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