California church shooting was a ‘hate incident,’ says sheriff

The sheriff also referred to “the tensions between China and Taiwan that are current.” Beijing has long claimed Taiwan, a self-governing democratic island, as its own territory, and has threatened to absorb it using force if it deems it necessary.

Sam Huang, a member of the Taiwanese community in Laguna Woods, said, however, that the well-established Chinese and Taiwanese communities in the diverse area exhibited little tension. He is a member of the congregation but did not attend church on Sunday.

“Usually we try to be friendly,” Mr. Huang said, adding that he would occasionally play table tennis or take part in line dancing at the community center together with other Chinese residents. He added, “Nobody says you’re Chinese, and I’m Taiwanese, so we won’t play games with you.”

Wei-Ming Tao, 67, a retiree living in Laguna Woods, confirmed that community members generally tried to stay away from any kind of politics in conversations. But he added that the confluence of the coronavirus, the rise in racist acts against people of Asian descent and Russia’s war in Ukraine had created a simmering environment that was inescapable, even in an ordinary haven of peace.

“We don’t need this kind of political agenda,” Ms. Tao said. Hate crimes: we’ve had enough, we don’t need more.

The shooting served as another reminder that religious shrines are not immune from the gun violence that has occurred in virtually every public space, from grocery stores to schools. Just 70 miles southeast of Laguna Woods, a man in 2019 killed a woman and injured three people at a synagogue in Poway, a shooting that was a hate crime.

Meanwhile, the sheriff called the shooting an example of “the ugliest part” of the division plaguing the country. “At some point we have to put aside our differences,” he said. “And focus on our similarities. And realize that we all want the same things.”

The report was contributed by christopher mele, Patel Vimal, jill cowan Y Amy Chang Chien.

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