California shooter may face death penalty if convicted, prosecutor says

David Chou has been charged with one count of murder and five counts of attempted murder in California

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The district attorney in Orange County, California suggested the death penalty is on the table for a man accused of opening fire on a Taiwanese church congregation killing one and injuring five others.

"The subject is eligible for life without the possibility of parole or death," Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer told reporters on Monday, adding that "at some point in time down the road I will have to determine as the district attorney whether, or not we will be seeking death."

Hector Gomez, left, and Jordi Poblete, worship leaders at the Mariners Church Irvine, leave flowers outside the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, Calif., Sunday, May 15, 2022, after a fatal shooting. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Hector Gomez, left, and Jordi Poblete, worship leaders at the Mariners Church Irvine, leave flowers outside the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, Calif., Sunday, May 15, 2022, after a fatal shooting. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes) (Associated Press )

CALIFORNIA CHURCH SHOOTING SUSPECT WAS MOTIVATED BY 'HATRED OF THE TAIWANESE PEOPLE,' AUTHORITIES SAY

Spitzer told KTTV-Los Angeles in a later interview that the death penalty is the most "solemn punishment we have in society" and that he won’t be "rushed" into making that decision.

"This is a very serious crime  and I’m looking at both the trauma and impact to the victims at the same time I’m obligated and will consider his age, whether or not he had a criminal background, other mental issues that may have been going on," Spitzer said.

Laguna Woods Mayor Carol Moore, front left at podium, and Orange County Board of Supervisor, Lisa Barlett, right, surrounded by law enforcement officers, hold a press conference outside the grounds og Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, Calif., Sunday, May 15, 2022, after a fatal shooting. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes) 

Laguna Woods Mayor Carol Moore, front left at podium, and Orange County Board of Supervisor, Lisa Barlett, right, surrounded by law enforcement officers, hold a press conference outside the grounds og Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, Calif., Sunday, May 15, 2022, after a fatal shooting. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)  (Associated Press )

"This is a death penalty case," Spitzer said when pressed about California’s moratorium on death penalties while explaining that California Gov. Gavin Newsom won’t be "governor forever."

POLICE IDENTIFY SUSPECT IN LAGUNA WOODS CHURCH SHOOTING

David Chou, 68, has been charged with one count of murder, five counts of attempted murder, and four counts of possession of explosives for incendiary devices that were left at the scene of a Laguna Woods, California church where he allegedly opened fire on Sunday.

Spitzer said that his office is working with federal authorities on potential hate crime charges as well. 

"There is a lot of evidence the suspect had an absolute bias against the Taiwanese people, its country, as a Chinese or mainland national," Spitzer said of Chou, who is a Chinese national.

A few dozen parishioners were inside the fellowship hall at the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods when Chou allegedly chained the doors closed, superglued locks, and hammered at least one door shut before opening fire on congregants. 

A Orange County Sheriff deputy removes yellow tape from a vehicle outside the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, Calif., Sunday, May 15, 2022, after a fatal shooting. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

A Orange County Sheriff deputy removes yellow tape from a vehicle outside the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, Calif., Sunday, May 15, 2022, after a fatal shooting. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes) (Associated Press)

Authorities said that Dr. John Cheng, 52, acted heroically to disable the gunman, preventing many other potential deaths. 

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"After others had been shot, he took it upon himself to charge across the room and do everything he could to disable the assailant," Spitzer said Monday. "He sacrificed himself so that others could live. That irony in a Church is not lost on me."

Spitzer’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fox News Digital.

Fox News’ Paul Best contributed to this report