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Man who killed one, injured others in Orange County church shooting has hate crime enhancements added to charges

By Taylor Romine, CNN

A man who killed one person and injured five others during a shooting at a church in Orange County, California, has had hate crime enhancements added to his charges, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office announced Friday.

David Wenwei Chou, 68, had hate crime enhancements added for each of the five counts of attempted murder, prosecutors said in a news release. They also said that an amended complaint was filed this week to add “a special circumstance that Chou intentionally killed his victim because of his race, color, religion, nationality, or country of origin.”

“After a review of additional evidence in this case, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office has filed an amended criminal complaint to include hate crime allegations,” Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in the release. His office did not share what additional evidence was found.

CNN has reached out to Chou’s attorney for comment on the enhancements.

During a church lunch banquet, Chou attempted to lock the doors from the inside with chains and super glue and then opened fire at the elderly churchgoers, officials said. Chou also had a bag of Molotov cocktails and a bag of extra ammunition, according to authorities.

Dr. John Cheng, a family and sports medicine physician there with his recently widowed mother, charged at the man and was fatally shot in the attempt. His efforts caused the gun to jam.

The pastor, Billy Chang, struck the gunman with a chair, and others hogtied the man and took at least two handguns from him, officials said.

Cheng, 52, was pronounced dead at the church, and authorities praised him as a hero for preventing further bloodshed.

Four men aged 66, 75, 82 and 92 and an 86-year-old woman were injured.

Prosecutors previously charged Chou with one felony count of murder, five felony counts of premeditated attempted murder, four felony counts of possession of an explosive device, and felony enhancements of lying in wait and personal discharge of a firearm causing death in relation to the May 15 shooting.

If convicted on all charges, Chou could face a maximum sentence of death, prosecutors said.

Chou is currently being held with no bail and is scheduled to be in court on August 19.

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CNN’s Elizabeth Joseph, Eric Levenson and Theresa Waldrop contributed to this report.

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