TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwanese netizens have uncovered evidence that the gunman behind the deadly shooting of a Taiwanese church in Orange County may be a member of a radical Chinese Communist Party (CCP) pro-unification group in Las Vegas.
During a Monday press conference, Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes identified the lone gunman as David Wenwei Chou (周文偉), 68, of Las Vegas. Barnes said that based on information collected, the shooting "was a politically motivated hate incident, a grievance that this individual had between himself and the Taiwanese community at large,” and added that “It is believed the suspect involved was upset about political tensions between China and Taiwan.”
Since the story broke in Taiwan on Monday (May 16), Taiwanese netizens on groups such as Disp BBS have unearthed photos of a man with the same Chinese name attending the inaugural meeting of the Las Vegas National Association for China’s Peaceful Unification in 2019. In an announcement of the event posted on the Las Vegas Chinese News Network website, a man with the same name is pictured wearing a Hawaiian shirt.
In the photo, Chou can be seen gesturing to a banner expressing his support for pro-China Kuomintang politician Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜). In the photo caption, Chou is described as a "local Las Vegas retired professor" and he can be seen dining and toasting members in three other photos from the event.
According to the report, Gu Yawen (顧雅文), the founding chairman of the association claimed that the purpose of the association was to "seek peace from Beijing and unify with Taiwan." About 40 people from the overseas Chinese community attended.
The National Association for China’s Peaceful Unification (NACPU, 中國和平統一促進會) is a semi-official Chinese organization that promotes the annexation of Taiwan with branches in many countries. Its stated purpose is to "unite people from all walks of life at home and abroad, to develop non-governmental exchanges across the Taiwan Strait, and to promote the peaceful unification of China."
The organization is chaired by Wang Yang (汪洋), a member of the Politburo Standing Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. In 2020, the U.S. State Department designated the organization a foreign mission of China and an affiliate of the United Front Work Department of the CCP.
On Monday, the Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA), issued a statement in which it wrote that the gunman "acted out of hate stemming from radicalized political beliefs." It strongly condemned this "act of cowardice" and called on authorities to prosecute the shooting as a politically motivated hate crime and "label any groups he was affiliated with as domestic terrorists."
Chou (right) gesturing toward banner supporting Han. (NACPU photo)