LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The Las Vegas man suspected of opening fire inside a southern California church accidentally fired his gun into a neighbor’s unit while cleaning it and then apologized, a report obtained by the 8 News Now I-Team said.
David Chou, 68, is accused of opening fire in the Irvine Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods. According to authorities, Chou was from China, but has lived in the United States for years. He lived in Las Vegas in a Spring Valley apartment.
Balmore Orellana, who was Chou’s neighbor, said the suspect had moved out in February and described him as “nice,” but said he had some concerns.
Chou told police he was “cleaning his firearm” in June 2020 when he pulled the trigger, thinking the gun was unloaded, officers wrote in a report.
Chou used the gun, a 9 mm Smith & Wesson SD 9, for work, he told police. 8 News Now’s Joe Moeller reported on Monday that Chou worked as a security guard.
Chou told police he pulled the trigger and then heard a loud “bang.” He then noticed a hole through a bottle of baby powder he had in his room. The hole went through to the neighboring unit, the report said.
A child in the apartment next door picked up the bullet, a report said. Chou said he went over to the neighbor to see if anyone was hurt and apologized. He then patched up the home. Officers recovered the bullet.
Authorities are investigating the shooting of the Taiwanese church group as a hate crime after evidence was found in Chou’s car, the same car Orellana had seen at his apartment.
Orellana said Chou’s ex-wife moved to Taiwan last year after being diagnosed with cancer.
Investigators still don’t know why Chou chose that church. He was booked on one felony count of murder and five felony counts of attempted murder and was being held on $1 million bail.