Marshall News

Doctor killed at Laguna Woods church was Texas native, alumnus of Baylor, Texas Tech

Dr. John Cheng, 52, tackled gunman David Chou, 68, after Chou opened fire on the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church during a lunch banquet.

A photo of Dr. John Cheng, a 52-year-old victim who was killed in Sunday's shooting at...

A photo of Dr. John Cheng, a 52-year-old victim who was killed in Sunday's shooting at Geneva Presbyterian Church, is displayed outside his office in Aliso Viejo, Calif., Monday, May 16, 2022. Authorities say a Chinese-born gunman was motivated by hatred against Taiwan when he chained shut the doors of the church and hid firebombs before shooting at a gathering of mainly of elderly Taiwanese parishioners.(Jae C. Hong / ASSOCIATED PRESS)

By Nataly Keomoungkhoun and Wire Services

10:20 PM on May 16, 2022 CDT

The doctor who died Sunday after tackling a gunman who opened fire in a Laguna Woods church was an East Texas native and an alumnus of Baylor and Texas Tech Universities.

Dr. John Cheng, 52, tackled gunman David Chou, 68, after Chou opened fire on the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church during a lunch banquet following a morning service at the Laguna Woods Church in California.

Cheng graduated from Marshall High School in 1987, Marshall ISD said in a statement Monday night.

“Marshall ISD mourns the loss of Dr. John Cheng, family man, friend, hero and class of 1987 MHS graduate,” the district said in a statement. “Prayers will continue to be lifted for his family and friends as well as all of those touched by this tragedy.”

Cheng also graduated from Baylor University in 1991, KWTX-TV reported, and attended medical school at Texas Tech School of Medicine.

Authorities said at a news conference that Chou of Las Vegas drove to Orange County on Saturday and the next day attended a lunch held by Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church. Although he knew no one there, Chou spent about an hour mingling with about 40 attendees and then executed his plot.

He opened fire and in the ensuing chaos, Cheng tackled him, allowing other parishioners to subdue him and tie him up with extension cords.

Cheng died in the incident and five other people were wounded. Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes called Cheng’s heroism “a meeting of good versus evil” that probably saved the lives “of upwards of dozens of people.”

Authorities said Monday that Chou was motivated by hatred against Taiwan. He was booked on suspicion of murder and attempted murder and jailed on $1 million bail. A federal hate crimes investigation is also ongoing.

Barnes said the motive of the shooting was a grievance between the shooter, who he said was born in China and is a U.S. citizen, and the Taiwanese community. China claims Taiwan is a part of its national territory and has not ruled out force to bring the island under its rule.

Cheng is survived by a wife and two children.

The shooting came a day after an 18-year-old man shot and killed 10 people at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York in a racist rampage where the white gunman allegedly targeted a supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood.