Physician who fought church gunman remembered as form protector

ALISO VIEJO, Calif. — He was recognized by all as merely Dr. John, the quiet, calm doctor who mentored children in kung fu, discovering time between affected person appointments to encourage individuals to be taught self-defense. So it was no shock to pals and colleagues that John Cheng spent his closing moments saving others by speeding a gunman who fired on a Southern California church luncheon of largely older Taiwanese individuals, together with Cheng’s not too long ago widowed mom.

The 52-year-old father of two usually regarded for tactics to guard individuals. He was involved sufficient in regards to the rising variety of mass shootings that he had taken security programs to organize himself for a state of affairs just like the one which price him his life Sunday.

“It was attribute of Dr. Cheng to cost ahead at that gunman,” mentioned Erica Triplett, Cheng’s workplace supervisor. “It doesn’t shock any of us. dr Cheng exemplified what he was constructed for — his heroism that saved so many individuals not solely at that church, however all through his profession.”

The household and sports activities medication doctor was like household to the employees and he inspired them to be taught kung fu, telling them in regards to the significance of realizing self-defense strategies. He additionally discovered easy methods to deal with a gun for that very same cause.

That preparedness mixed with Cheng’s serene disposition probably gave him a proclivity for appearing heroically, based on energetic shooter consultants. Most individuals in these conditions freeze.

“Folks do not rise to the extent of the event; they fall to the extent of coaching that they’ve,” mentioned energetic shooter knowledgeable Chris Grollnek, who believes such coaching ought to be as widespread as hearth drills. “This man clearly as a health care provider was inoculated (to deal) with dangerous issues from a bone protruding of any person’s arm to a tragic occasion like what occurred contained in the church in Orange County.”

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

Prosecutors say the gunman, David Chou, 68, of Las Vegas, was motivated by hatred of Taiwan, the place he was born and grew up after his household was pressured from mainland China when Communists took management. He had no connection to the church but it surely afforded him entry to a big group of Taiwanese to focus on, authorities mentioned.

Chou spent about an hour with attendees on the luncheon, apparently to realize their belief so he may execute his plot, authorities mentioned. He chained doorways shut and glued locks. He had two 9mm handguns and three luggage, containing 4 Molotov-cocktail-type incendiary gadgets and ammunition.

When Chou began capturing, Cheng charged him and was shot. He died on the scene however his fast motion disrupted the shooter, who was then hit by a chair thrown by the church’s former pastor, Billy Chang, and jumped on by three members of the congregation who used an extension wire to tie him up till police arrived.

Cheng was the one one killed. 5 others had been wounded, together with 4 males ages 66 to 92 and an 86-year-old lady.

Sheriff Don Barnes referred to as Cheng’s heroism “a gathering of excellent versus evil.”

“Dr. Cheng’s selfless love for others stopped a hate-filled act from claiming extra lives past his personal,” Barnes mentioned in a tweet.

Those that knew Cheng mentioned that selflessness outlined his life.

He began his apply by knocking on doorways to introduce himself as the brand new household physician within the space, mentioned Johnna Gherardini, govt director of South Coast Medical Group. Cheng gave physicals to scholar athletes after which donated the cash he was paid to Aliso Niguel Excessive Faculty.

Gherardini took kung fu along with her daughter at Cheng’s urging.

“He is at all times taught us easy methods to shield ourselves,” she mentioned.

His sufferers remembered him as a involved listener. “He was unfathomably form,” learn a observe left by a affected person taped to the door of his workplace, the place individuals left flowers to pay homage.

In a video posted on-line, Cheng mentioned he was impressed to get entangled in medication after seeing the care his father offered as a doctor of their small neighborhood in East Texas, the place the household had moved to from Taiwan when Cheng was a child.

“It is these small-town values ​​that had been ingrained in me after I was youthful that actually helped create this sense of neighborhood,” mentioned Cheng, who graduated from Texas Tech College Faculty of Drugs and did his residency in California. “And on this trendy society, in these trendy occasions, we miss a whole lot of that.”

He referred to as the patient-doctor relationship particular “so that you get to know so much in regards to the affected person, their household, the neighborhood that they dwell in. And what’s stunning is that I dwell in the identical neighborhood.”

Cheng’s pastor and shut pal, Ira Angustain, took a category with him to learn to deal with a gun safely.

“We talked about how individuals had been shedding their minds and going round capturing individuals for no cause,” mentioned Angustain, pastor of Kingdom Covenant Church within the close by neighborhood of Lake Forest. “He did not need to really feel helpless.”

On Sunday morning, Cheng texted Angustain to let him know he would not be coming to service as a result of he was taking his mom to her church.

She had stopped going since her husband handed away a few months in the past, nonetheless grieving his demise. However Chang, the church’s former pastor who had written to her expressing his condolences, was visiting from Taiwan and the church had invited her to a service and luncheon to see him.

Cheng volunteered to drive his mom, however in a horrible coincidence, as a substitute of the outing giving her peace, she would find yourself witnessing his demise that day.

“My coronary heart is aching,” the visiting pastor wrote in a press release.

Shortly earlier than the capturing, Angustain replied to Cheng’s textual content, telling him to say hey to his mom.

“You are such a very good son,” Angustain texted to Cheng.

“I can at all times be higher,” Cheng replied.

Lower than quarter-hour later, Cheng did not hesitate to cost the gunman.

“Evil did not take Dr. John out,” Angustain mentioned. “Dr. John selected to put down his life for others so they might dwell.”


Watson experiences from San Diego. Related Press author Stefanie Dazio in Los Angeles and information researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this report.


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