Browns' Johnny Stanton hails his 'hero' Dr. John Cheng, who was killed subduing Laguna Woods church shooter

·3-min read

Tributes are pouring in for Dr. John Cheng, who was killed on Sunday while authorities say he tackled and attempted to disarm the gunman who opened fire on a Laguna Woods, California, church Sunday.

Among the tributes came from Cleveland Browns fullback Johnny Stanton, who wrote on Twitter Monday that Cheng was his primary physician. Stanton called Cheng an "absolute hero" while writing that he "wanted his name to be known."

Sheriff: Cheng charged gunman before being fatally wounded

Authorities credited Cheng with saving lives on Sunday in the shooting that left him dead and five others wounded. According to the Orange County Sheriff's Department, Cheng, who was 52, attended a Geneva Presbyterian Church luncheon alongside his mother to honor visiting pastor Rev. Billy Chang, who was returning to the church after several years in Taiwan.

The OCSD announced in a news conference on Monday that Cheng put himself in the line of fire when the suspect began shooting, tackled the gunman and attempted to disarm him, The Los Angeles Times reports. The church's pastor then hit the gunman with a chair as the shooter tried to reload before other attendees subdued him and hogtied him with an extension cord.

Cheng was fatally shot in the process. Four men and a woman were wounded, with their ages ranging from 66 to 92.

“Dr. Cheng is a hero in this incident, based on statements from the witnesses and corroborated by other means," Sheriff Don Barnes told reporters. "It is known that Dr. Cheng charged the individual — the suspect — [and] attempted to disarm him, which allowed other parishioners to then intercede."

“He sacrificed himself so others could live,” Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said, per the Times.

Sheriff calls shooting a hate crime

Barnes called the shooting a hate crime targeting the Taiwanese community. All of the shooting victims were of Asian descent, according to authorities. The alleged shooter is David Wenwei Chou, 68, of Las Vegas. Barnes told reporters that authorities found notes in Chou's car that he believes that Taiwan shouldn't be a separate state from China.

According to authorities, Chou allegedly barricaded church doors with chains and tried to disable locks with superglue before opening fire on the luncheon, the Times reports. Per the report, officials found bags containing magazines loaded with ammunition and four Molotov-cocktail-like devices on the scene. Barnes told reporters that the shooting "could have been much, much worse" if not for the actions of the churchgoers to subdue their attacker.

Officials told reporters on Monday that Cheng was a doctor of sports medicine and a martial arts master. He leaves behind a wife and two children.

Stanton, 27, is approaching his third NFL season with the Browns. He grew up in Orange County and attended Santa Margarita Catholic High School in Rancho Santa Margarita.

Johnny Stanton grew up and Orange County and wrote that John Cheng was his primary care physician.
Johnny Stanton grew up and Orange County and wrote that Dr. John Cheng was his primary care physician. (Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
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