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Man charged with 90 hate crimes in California church shooting

A federal grand jury indicted a suspect on 98 counts, including 90 hate crime counts. with a shooting About a year ago, a Taiwanese church in Irvine, California, killed one person and injured five others, authorities said.

The Justice Department said Thursday that David Chow, 69, of Las Vegas, was indicted Wednesday on 45 counts each of interfering with the free exercise of religious beliefs by force and violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

Authorities said Chow entered the Geneva Presbyterian Church at lunchtime after a morning service on May 15, 2022, and opened fire on a group of 45 elderly people.

John Cheng, a sports medicine doctor, was fatally shot after “taking heroic action” and charging the gunman, Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said at the time.

The gunman, identified as Chow, was disarmed of two handguns, restrained and tied up by parishioners until deputies arrived at the scene, sheriff’s officials said, adding that deputies recovered four Molotov cocktail-like devices and bags of ammunition.

Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church shooting in Laguna Forest

A sidewalk memorial in front of the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Irvine, California on May 22, 2022, left one dead and five wounded in a gunshot.

Myung Jae Chun / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Authorities said Chow secured the church’s doors with chains and disabled multiple door locks with superglue before opening fire to prevent the victims from escaping.

“Chow acted because of the national origin and religion of the accused and he intentionally interfered with the religious practices of the victims,” ​​the Justice Department said in its news release announcing the charges Thursday.

Chow was charged Wednesday with six federal felony counts of using a firearm during the commission of a felony, and one count of attempting to damage or destroy a building used in interstate commerce and one count of carrying an explosive during the commission of a federal felony, the Justice Department said. .

He could face the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted, the Justice Department said. But California There is a moratorium The death penalty has been carried out since 2019.

He also faces separate state charges brought by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, including one count of murder and five counts of attempted murder.

– Carolyn Linton contributed to this report.

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