Orange County doctor John Cheng remembered for his heroism at Taiwanese church shooting

·3 min read

A doctor in Orange County, California, who was brutally shot during a mass shooting at a Laguna Woods church on Sunday was hailed as a hero for intervening and stopping the gunman.

John Cheng, a 52-year-old sports medicine doctor, immediately sprang into action to tackle the gunman, 68-year-old David Chou, before attempting to disarm him on Sunday.

The shooting, which occurred at the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church during a lunch banquet witnessed by around 30 to 40 people, left five wounded and the doctor dead.

Cheng’s quick actions allowed some congregants to step in and hogtie the suspect by the legs with an extension cord. He was reportedly shot several times.

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“After others had been shot, he took it upon himself to charge across the room and to do everything he could to disable the assailant,” Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer told ABC 7. “He was shot, and then there was an attempt to shoot him again, but the gun jammed, and he succumbed to his injuries.”

Cheng, who visited the church for the first time with his mother, was pronounced dead at the scene. He leaves behind his wife and two children.

“Without the actions of Dr. Cheng, it is no doubt that there would be numerous additional victims in this crime,” Sheriff Donald Barnes said. “The heroic actions of Dr. Cheng ... literally the meaning of good versus evil between Dr. Cheng and the suspect in this case.”

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The doctor helped co-found the South Coast Medical Group in Aliso Viejo. Johanna Gherardini, the medical group’s executive director, said Cheng was a master in martial arts who taught people self-defense.

“I have no doubt that everybody that was in there would not be with us today had it not been for Dr. John Cheng being there,” Gherardini said. “He was adamant that everybody should know how to defend themselves. When they had said that he gone across the room and charged him, I can see him doing that. He was a protector and that’s exactly what he did.”

The shooting, which was described as a “politically-motivated hate incident” by officials, is currently being investigated as a hate crime. Chou is a Chinese American from Las Vegas.

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While it is not clear why Chou targeted the Taiwanese church in California, investigators reportedly found notes in his car as evidence of his “hatred of the Taiwanese people.”

Chou was motivated by his anger over the political tensions between China and Taiwan, according to the authorities.

Chou, who was booked on one count of murder and five counts of attempted murder, is being held on a $1 million bail at the Orange County Intake Release Center.

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Friends of the doctor have also launched a GoFundMe for funeral costs and to support the family.

Featured image via @abc7DavidGonz (left); KTVU (right)