Commemorating Courage: One Week After the Laguna Woods Church Shooting

Anjeli Webb, Photojournalist

For Irvine Presbyterian Church members, May 15th was supposed to be a peaceful Sunday to gather with their community. They did not anticipate a politically motivated attack.

At 1:26 PM, a Taiwanese American Church Congregation in Laguna Woods, California was targeted and attacked by a man who possessed two firearms. David Wenwei Chou, who had been living in Las Vegas, Nevada, and was most likely motivated by Chinese Nationalist and Anti-Taiwanese Sovereignty sentiments, murdered one and injured five churchgoers.

Dr. John Cheng has been widely praised for his courageous actions in stopping the gunman which led to his death that afternoon.

There was an interfaith service that took place the Sunday after the shooting, and by the church, flowers and candles were left in memorial of Dr. Cheng and the other injured victims.

Renee Glover stopped to pay her respects to Dr. Cheng that morning. She says that “[her family] didn’t know Dr. Cheng personally, but we know others who knew him. Our hearts were touched by how he saved others as he lost his life. He will never be forgotten and we pay tribute to him for what he did. Life is short and we should love all people of all colors and rise above our differences. We are better together=all people=all races.”

Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes called Dr. Cheng a “hero” and that Chou had been “upset about political tensions between China and Taiwan” ( In a Facebook post, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department shared three images of a press release regarding the shooting.

(OC Sheriff Facebook Page)

Yorba Linda City Councilwoman Peggy Huang (whose parents are part of the Taiwanese Presbyterian Church) stated that “Church is all about love, peace and everything in the Bible.”

Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer also shared the sentiment, saying that the 52-year-old doctor, husband, and father of two “sacrificed himself so that others could live. That irony in a church is not lost on me.”

The Gun Violence Archive reported via Twitter that there have been 7,695 deaths and 214 mass shootings in 2022 as of May 26th. (

This came after the shooting at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York that resulted in the deaths of ten shoppers. Widely believed to be racially motivated, the gunman also attempted to stream the crime on Twitch. New York canceled Regents Exams in public schools, citing “concern of worsening student trauma caused by the recent violence in Buffalo.”

This last Wednesday also saw a gruesome massacre, this time of elementary school students aged nine to eleven, two teachers, and the perpetrator’s grandmother (who was shot, but not killed), in Uvalde, Texas. What the New York Times called the “deadliest school shooting in a decade” has sparked a GoFundMe page, a rise in local blood donors, and a call for pro bono work to help victims and families of the attack.