Doctor died protecting others during California church shooting targeting Taiwanese community

Dr John Cheng (left) was Ki**ed while trying to disarm a gunman who attacked a southern California Taiwanese church community (Pictures: Reuters/AP/South Coast Medical Group)

A well-respected California doctor was Ki**ed Sunday when a gunman opened fire at a luncheon of Asian churchgoers in an attack motivated by hate for Taiwanese people.

Orange County officials said Monday that Dr John Cheng died after he tackled the gunman and attempted to disarm him.

‘Without the actions of Dr Cheng, it is no doubt that there would be numerous additional victims in this crime,’ said Sheriff Donald Barnes.

Witnesses say Cheng, a prominent sports medicine doctor, immediately went for the , and tackled him to the ground before he was fatally shot.

Barnes said that the motivation behind the shooting was Chou’s alleged hatred for Taiwanese people. Chou, an US citizen from China, ‘was upset about political tensions between China and Taiwan’ and allegedly drove nearly 300 miles from Las Vegas to Geneva Presbyterian Church to carry out the shooting.

A federal hate crimes investigation has been opened against Chou to determine if additional charges can be brought against him, according to Kristi Johnson, the assistant director of the FBI’s Los Angeles office.

Chou traveled to southern California on Saturday, a day before the attack. He is accused of securing doors with chains and using glue to disable locks. It’s unclear whether he has connections to the church or its parishioners.

About 40 people who belong to the Taiwanese church were inside the building at the time of the shooting.

Dr Cheng, 53, was the only person Ki**ed in the attack, and has since been hailed a hero by the community for his swift action against the gunman, which likely saved lives.

‘It is known that Dr Cheng charged the suspect, attempted to disarm him, which allowed other parishioners to then intercede, taking the suspect into custody,’ Barnes said.

After Cheng charged at the gunman, as authorities arrived at the scene.

Barnes said that Dr Cheng’s actions ‘saved the lives of probably upwards of dozens of people.’

Other congregants, many of whom were elderly, also risked their lives while confronting the gunman, including a pastor who threw a chair at him, Barnes said.

‘They acted spontaneously, heroically, and if not for their quick action, the way that this individual set up that environment, to kill many more people, there would have been many, many more lives lost,’ Barnes said.

Officials recovered several bags of ammunition inside the church as well as four Molotov cocktails, Barnes said.

Five other people were injured by gunfire in the shooting, including an 86-year-old Asian woman and four Asian men, ages 66, 75, 82 and 92.

The majority of those in attendance at the church are believed to be of Taiwanese descent, according to the sheriff’s office.

The church shooting was one of several to rock the US over the weekend. In Buffalo, New York, an 18-year-old gunman opened fire in a supermarket, killing 10 and wounding three in what officials say was a racially motivated act of hate.

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