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Thursday, June 8, 2023

Nevada Man Charged with Federal Hate Crimes for Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church Shooting

Chou allegedly acted because of the victims’ national origin and religion, and he intentionally obstructed the victims’ religious exercise. 

A Nevada man has been charged with 98 counts of federal hate crimes and weapons and explosives offenses, including the murder of one person and attempted murder of 44 others, for his actions during the shooting and attempted bombing at the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church on May 15, 2022.

David Chou, 69, of Las Vegas, killed one person and attempted to kill 44 others using firearms and explosive devices that he carried inside the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church in Southern California, according to the indictment returned Wednesday by a federal grand jury in Santa Ana, California. In addition to the victim who Chou fatally shot, five others were injured by gunfire. Chou allegedly acted because of the victims’ national origin and religion, and he intentionally obstructed the victims’ religious exercise.

Specifically, the indictment charges Chou with 98 violations of federal law:

  • 45 counts of obstructing free exercise of religious beliefs by force, which resulted in the death of one person, included attempts to kill 44 others, and involved the use of a firearm and attempted use of explosives and fire;
  • 45 counts of violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act by attacking the church congregants because of their actual or perceived Taiwanese national origin and Presbyterian faith;
  • One count of attempting to damage or destroy a building used in interstate commerce by means of fire and explosives;
  • One count of carrying explosives during the commission of a federal felony offense; and
  • Six counts of using a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence.

If convicted, Chou faces a maximum penalty of death or life in prison without parole. He is currently in state custody pending state criminal charges.

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada for the Central District of California and Los Angeles FBI Assistant Director in Charge Donald Alway made the announcement. The FBI would like to acknowledge the considerable assistance of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

The FBI Los Angeles Field Office, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and the ATF investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Greg Scally and Susan Har for the Central District of California and Special Litigation Counsel Michael J. Songer of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section are prosecuting the case.

Read more at the Justice Department

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