The suspect accused of shooting up a California church over his political hatred for Taiwan called himself a “destroying angel” in a seven-volume diary he mailed to a Chinese-language newspaper before the attack, the outlet said Wednesday.
David Chou, 68, spent $16.10 to ship seven thick photocopied volumes of handwritten Chinese text and a flash drive to the World Journal office in the Los Angeles suburb of Monterey Park, according to photos published in the paper.
The journal bore the title “Diary of an Angel Destroying Independence” in an apparent reference to Taiwan’s self-government. The Chinese Communist Party continues to demand Taiwan reunify with China.
The diary pages were received Monday, one day after Chou allegedly opened fire at a lunch gathering of elderly parishioners of Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church, which worships at Geneva Presbyterian Church in the community of Laguna Woods.
The newspaper didn’t publish the contents of the notebooks and nobody there apparently read through them before sending them to the police through the paper’s attorney, said an employee who declined to be named because they weren’t authorized to speak openly.
Investigators were aware of the reports that the journals were sent to the newspaper, according to Orange County sheriff’s spokesperson Carrie Braun. She did not know if the sheriff’s department or the FBI had them.
Chou could face life in prison or the death penalty if convicted of murder and attempted murder stemming from the shooting, which killed Dr. John Cheng, 52, and wounded five others.
He has not yet entered a plea and remained jailed without bail in Orange County pending a June 10 arraignment.
County District Attorney Todd Spitzer has said Chou, a US citizen, was motivated by hatred for Taiwan, where he was born after his family was forcibly removed from mainland China when Communists prevailed in a civil war that ended in 1949.
He apparently chose the church at random and didn’t know anyone there before he drove to California from Las Vegas last Saturday, authorities said.
Authorities have said Chou sat through a church service before attending the luncheon in honor of a former pastor, where he mingled with the parishioners for about 40 minutes before chaining and nailing shut exit doors and opening fire.
When the gunfire erupted, Cheng, a sports medicine doctor, charged Chou and was shot, but authorities said he disrupted the attack and may have saved dozens of lives.
The former pastor, Billy Chang, then picked up a chair and threw it at Chou, who fell on the floor. Chang said he hastened at Chou and several congregation members held Chou down and hogtied him with an extension cord.
Chou was armed with two legally purchased 9mm handguns and concealed bags holding ammunition and four Molotov cocktail-style devices in the church hall, authorities said.
The wounded ranged in age from 66 to 92 and were expected to survive.
With Post wires