Doctor who fought church gunman remembered as kind protector

Sadye Matula

Table of Contents “Dr. Cheng’s selfless love for others stopped a hate-loaded act from declaring more lives over and above his personal.” California church capturing was ‘hate incident,’ sheriff states Newsletter Signup National “Dr. Cheng’s selfless love for others stopped a hate-loaded act from declaring more lives over and above […]


“Dr. Cheng’s selfless love for others stopped a hate-loaded act from declaring more lives over and above his personal.”

A memorial honoring Dr. John Cheng sits exterior his workplace creating on Tuesday, Might 17, 2022, in Aliso Viejo, Calif. Cheng, 52, was killed in Sunday’s taking pictures at Geneva Presbyterian Church. (AP Picture/Ashley Landis)
The Connected Press

ALISO VIEJO, Calif. (AP) — He was recognised by all as basically Dr. John, the quiet, relaxed medical professional who mentored children in Kung Fu, locating time in between individual appointments to really encourage people today to understand self-protection. So it was no surprise to mates and colleagues that John Cheng spent his ultimate moments preserving others by rushing a gunman who opened fireplace on a Southern California church of largely more mature Taiwanese folks, which includes Cheng’s not long ago widowed mom.

The 52-year-aged father of two normally appeared for approaches to protect individuals. He was worried sufficient about the expanding amount of mass shootings that he experienced taken basic safety classes to prepare himself for a situation like the one particular that charge him his life Sunday.

  • California church capturing was ‘hate incident,’ sheriff states

“It was characteristic of Dr. Cheng to cost forward at that gunman,” stated Erica Triplett, Cheng’s place of work manager. “It does not shock any of us. Dr. Cheng exemplified what he was constructed for — his heroism that saved so many people today not only at that church, but all through his vocation.”

The family members and sports activities medication medical professional was like household to the team and he inspired them to master Kung Fu, telling them about the significance of realizing self-protection approaches. He also acquired how to deal with a gun for that same explanation.

That preparedness combined with Cheng’s serene disposition most likely gave him a proclivity for performing heroically, in accordance to energetic shooter professionals. Most men and women in those people situations freeze.

“People really don’t increase to the stage of the celebration they drop to the stage of training that they have,” mentioned lively shooter qualified Chris Grollnek, who believes these types of trainings really should be as frequent as fireplace drills. “This male certainly as a doctor was inoculated (to deal) with terrible issues from a bone sticking out of somebody’s arm to a tragic occasion like what happened inside of the church in Orange County.”

Authorities credit Cheng’s fast motion with preserving perhaps dozens of lives at a celebratory luncheon for congregants and their former pastor at Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church, which worships at Geneva Presbyterian Church in the Orange County neighborhood of Laguna Woods.

Prosecutors say the gunman, David Chou, 68, of Las Vegas, was motivated by hatred of Taiwan, in which he was born and grew up right after his family was compelled from mainland China when Communists took management. He had no relationship to the church but it afforded him entry to a much larger group of Taiwanese to focus on, authorities stated.

Chou spent about an hour with attendees at the luncheon, seemingly to attain their belief so he could execute his plot, authorities said. He chained doors shot and glued locks. He experienced two 9 mm handguns and 3 bags, made up of four Molotov-cocktail-form incendiary units and ammunition.

When Chou began shooting, Cheng billed him and was shot. He died at the scene but his rapid action disrupted the shooter, who was then strike by a chair thrown by the church’s previous pastor, Billy Chang, and jumped on by a few users of the congregation who utilised an extension twine to tie him up until finally police arrived.

Cheng was the only one killed. 5 many others had been wounded, which include 4 gentlemen ages 66 to 92 and an 86-yr-old female.

Sheriff Don Barnes termed Cheng’s heroism “a meeting of superior compared to evil.”

“Dr. Cheng’s selfless enjoy for other folks stopped a despise-crammed act from claiming additional life past his individual,” Barnes said in a tweet.

Individuals who understood Cheng said that selflessness defined his life.

He started out his exercise by knocking on doorways to say hello and introduce himself as the new spouse and children health care provider in the location, explained Johnna Gherardini, govt director of South Coastline Medical Group. Cheng gave physicals to university student athletes and then donated the income he was compensated to Aliso Niguel Higher School.

Gherardini took Kung Fu with her daughter at Cheng’s urging.

“He’s always taught us how to guard ourselves,” she reported.

His people remembered him as a concerned listener. “He was unfathomably form,” examine a notice left by a affected individual taped to the door of his place of work, wherever persons remaining flowers to pay out homage.

In a video clip posted on-line, Cheng mentioned he was motivated to get included in medicine following seeing the treatment his father provided as a health practitioner in their tiny neighborhood in East Texas, the place the spouse and children experienced moved to from Taiwan when Cheng was a infant.

“It’s individuals little-town values that had been ingrained in me when I was younger that really served make this sense of community,” mentioned Cheng, who graduated from Texas Tech University College of Medicine and did his residency in California. “And in this fashionable culture, in these modern occasions, we overlook a good deal of that.”

He named the individual-health care provider marriage particular “so you get to know a large amount about the individual, their family members, the community that they reside in. And what’s attractive is that I stay in the identical local community.”

Cheng’s pastor and near friend, Ira Angustain, took a class with him to discover how to cope with a gun properly.

“We talked about how individuals ended up shedding their minds and going around taking pictures people today for no motive,” stated Angustain, pastor of Kingdom Covenant Church in the nearby local community of Lake Forest. “He didn’t want to come to feel helpless.”

On Sunday morning, Cheng texted Angustain to permit him know he wouldn’t be coming to assistance since he was using his mother to her church.

She had stopped heading given that her husband handed absent a pair of months in the past, nonetheless grieving his loss of life. But Chang, the church’s previous pastor who experienced prepared to her expressing his condolences, was visiting from Taiwan and the church experienced invited her to a service and luncheon to see him.

Cheng volunteered to drive his mother, but in a horrible twist of destiny, as an alternative of the outing supplying her peace, she would conclude up witnessing his loss of life that working day.

“My coronary heart is aching,” the browsing pastor wrote in a statement.

Soon right before the capturing, Angustain replied to Cheng’s text, telling him to say hi to his mom.

“You’re this sort of a great son,” Angustain texted to Cheng.

“I can usually be superior,” Cheng replied.

Less than 15 minutes later, Cheng didn’t hesitate to demand the gunman.

“Evil didn’t take Dr. John out,” Angustain said. “Dr. John selected to lay down his everyday living for some others so they could live.”


Watson reported from San Diego. Connected Push author Stefanie Dazio in Los Angeles and news researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this report.

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