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California church shooter was licensed armed security guard

SACRAMENTO — The Las Vegas man accused of killing one person and wounding five others in a burst of gunfire at a Taiwanese-American church luncheon in California on Sunday was licensed to work as a security guard who carries a gun, state records in Nevada show.

David Chou was arraigned yesterday in Orange County on charges of murder, attempted murder and use of a destructive device for allegedly killing a beloved local doctor and wounding five others.

He had worked for three different Las Vegas security firms since 2018, records seen by Reuters show, and was licensed to carry a gun in his work through October 2022.

Chou, who was being held at Orange County Central Jail, drove 300 miles (483 km) on Saturday from Las Vegas to Southern California, heavily armed with two semi-automatic weapons and four incendiary devices, police said.

He attended a church luncheon that a Taiwanese Presbyterian congregation was holding at Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, a community of mostly retired people south of Los Angeles, before opening fire.

An official from the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Los Angeles, the Taiwan government’s office there, told Reuters that Chou had been born in Taiwan in 1953, still had an active Taiwanese passport, and had done military service for Taiwan.

But prosecutors say he hated Taiwan and had notes written in Mandarin in his car indicating that he was angry about current tensions between the island nation and the Chinese mainland.

Chinese government spokesman Liu Pengyu said his country condemned incidents of violence, but urged people not to speculate on Chou’s motives until more was known.

“We express our condolences to the victims and sincere sympathy to the bereaved families and the injured,” he said. “We wish the injured an early recovery.”

Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said he was strongly considering asking for the death penalty in the case, even though California has not executed a prisoner in more than a decade.

“That suspect was ready to kill everybody in that church,” Spitzer said on CNN yesterday. “It’s my belief that he was going to kill everybody and then blow up the church.” — Reuters

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