Man indicted on 98 charges including hate crimes for 2022 shooting at Taiwanese church in California

David Chou, left, appears for an arraignment with his attorney deputy public defender, Jennifer Ryan in 2022 in Santa Ana, Calif. (Mark Rightmire/The Orange County Register via AP)

SANTA ANA, Calif. — A man accused of fatally shooting one person and wounding five others at a Southern California church luncheon last year has been charged with dozens of federal hate crimes in connection with the attack, which investigators said was motivated by political hatred of Taiwan.

The indictment announced Thursday by the U.S. Department of Justice charges David Chou, of Las Vegas, with 98 counts including weapons and explosives charges and forcefully obstructing the free exercise of religion.

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Messages seeking comment from attorneys who have represented Chou, 69, in a separate case in state court were not immediately returned.

Authorities said Chou chained and nailed shut exit doors before launching the attack on a gathering of older parishioners from the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods on May 15, 2022.

Chou had two handguns, bags of ammunition and four Molotov cocktail-style devices, and was motivated by hatred of Taiwan, where he grew up, investigators said.

Among the charges were 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,” the Justice Department said in a statement.

Chou was charged last year by Orange County prosecutors with murder and attempted murder including enhancements for a hate crime and other counts. He pleaded not guilty.

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