Taiwanese church shooter mailed seven-volume diary to Chinese-language newspaper

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Laguna Woods, California-May 16, 2022-One person was killed and others injured in a shooting at the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, California on May 15, 2022. On May 16, 2022, police are still on the scene as the investigation continues. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
The Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

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 World Journal's Los Angeles office, the Chinese-language newspaper reported Wednesday.

An article on the World Journal's website said that the documents have been sent to law enforcement and that the newspaper will not be printing their contents.

The article's lead photo showed stacks of paper filled with handwritten Chinese characters and secured with binder clips.

Investigators believe the suspect, David Wenwei Chou, was motivated by hatred toward Taiwanese people.

He left notes in Chinese in his car stating that he did not believe Taiwan should be independent from China, Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes has said.

Chou, 68, of Las Vegas, was born in Taiwan to parents from mainland China, according to Taiwan's de facto consulate in L.A.

China considers Taiwan a breakaway province and has become increasingly aggressive in its threats against the democratic, self-governing island.

Many older people of Chou's background, who are known as waishengren, or people from another province, consider themselves Chinese, not Taiwanese. Some hope that Taiwan will someday unify with China and disapprove of assertions of Taiwanese independence.

Chou was recently evicted from a building he once owned in Las Vegas, according to court documents.

Orange County prosecutors have not filed a hate crime sentencing enhancement against Chou, but they are working with the FBI to explore that evidence.

Maxwell Lin, an attorney for the World Journal, confirmed that the newspaper received the multi-volume "diary" Tuesday morning. The mailing label listed Chou's name and a Las Vegas address, Lin said.

Lin said that he doesn't believe anyone at the newspaper has read through all the documents and that he hasn't, either. He could not confirm that the documents had been shared with law enforcement.

Orange County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Carrie Braun said investigators were looking into the matter but did "not have any info to share at this time."

A woman comforts an older woman who appears to be crying.
A first responder grief counselor comforts a parishioner after a shooting at Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church, whose congregants were attacked, holds services in the Taiwanese dialect, not Mandarin. In Taiwan, the Presbyterian church has a history of advocating for independence.

But investigators are not sure why Chou targeted the church, which rents space at Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, out of the many places where Taiwanese immigrants gather.

Church members said Chou did not look familiar when he arrived at the 10 a.m. service on Sunday.

Later, at a lunch honoring a former pastor who led the church for two decades, Chou chained some doors shut and hammered others with nails, according to the church account.

After Chou opened fire, a 52-year-old doctor named John Cheng attempted to tackle him and was shot and killed.

The former pastor, Billy Chang, struck Chou with a chair. Other church members disarmed him and tied him up with an electrical cord.

On Wednesday, Cheng was honored with a moment of silence on the floor of the House of Representatives.

Times staff writers Cindy Chang, Stephanie Yang, Matthew Ormseth, Hannah Fry and Rong-Gong Lin II contributed to this report.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.