The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced on May 16 that it has launched a federal hate crimes investigation against the suspect who killed one person and injured five others at a California church.
“We have discovered evidence that the individual was motivated by some kind of hate,” Kristi Johnson, the assistant director in charge of FBI Los Angeles, said at a press conference.
Authorities identified the suspect as David Chou, a 68-year-old Chinese immigrant who worked as a security guard in Las Vegas.
Authorities booked Chou into jail on one count of murder and five counts of attempted murder.
Chou “was upset about political tensions between China and Taiwan,” Orange County Sheriff Donald Barnes said at the press conference.
“This was a politically motivated hate incident, a grievance that this individual had between himself and the Taiwanese community-at-large,” Barnes said.
China claims Taiwan is part of its national territory and has carried out rounds of military drills near the island.
Barnes said Chou traveled to southern California a day before attacking the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church in the Laguna Woods community.
It is not clear why Chou specifically targeted the church.
Barnes said that no connection has been established between Chou and the church or any of the parishioners there.
Chou lawfully purchased the two 9mm semi-automatic pistols used in the shooting in Las Vegas in 2015 and 2017, Stephen Galloway, assistant special agent in charge with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, said.
Investigators also found several bags of ammo and four molotov cocktail-like devices inside the church.
Authorities have served search warrants at Chou’s residence, as well as a vehicle located at the church’s parking lot.
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