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Was California Church Shooting of Taiwanese a Politically Motivated Hate Crime?

“One person was dead and several others injured during a shooting that took place at a California church on Sunday,” the police said.

Sheriff’s deputies in Orange County responded to a report of a shooting at the Geneva Presbyterian Church on El Toro Road in Laguna Woods at around 2 p.m. local time. “Four victims have been critically wounded, one with minor injuries,” the Orange County Sheriff’s Department wrote on Twitter. “All victims are adults and are en-route to the hospital. One victim is deceased at the scene.”

The suspect David Wenwei Chou was arrested and charged with one count of murder and five counts of attempted murder. Chou is a second-generation waishengren – born in Taiwan to those who had evacuated from mainland China during the ROC’s retreat in 1949.

County sheriff Don Barnes suspects it to be a politically motivated hate crime regarding Taiwanese-Chinese tensions. According to his statements, there were notes in Chou’s vehicle alluding to “his hatred of the Taiwanese people,” which is believed to stem from his past residence there, possibly during his youth. The Presbyterian Church in Taiwan has played a significant role in Taiwan’s democratization.

Chou was not affiliated with the Taiwanese church. He was pictured as a retired professor in a 2019 local news story on the founding of the Las Vegas chapter of the National Association for China’s Peaceful Unification (NACPU), also known as The China Council for the Promotion of Peaceful National Reunification (CCPPNR). CCPPNR is an umbrella organization, founded in 1988, by the United Front Work Department of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to promote unification between mainland China and Taiwan on terms defined solely by the People’s Republic of China. In September 2020, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated that the State Department had begun reviewing the activities of the CCPPNR in the U.S. In October 2020, the State Department designated the NACPU a foreign mission of the People’s Republic of China.

Source: Central News Agency (Taiwan), May 17, 2022