Dr. John Cheng

I have the wind knocked out of me right now.


I am saddened, sickened, and unbelievably proud simultaneously. The maelstrom of emotions that I am experiencing is having a physical effect on me.


The trees are duller, the grass less vibrant, the birds sing lowered songs and they offer no respite to our sadness.


On Sunday of this last week, a monster appeared before us, and a hero acted with supreme selflessness and extreme determination to save the lives of others.


The monster was a deranged man from Las Vegas; a man who felt slighted by the Taiwanese community, and evidently a proponent of the policies of mainland China. Whatever demons he had residing in him, they compelled him to engage in his own act of foreign policy.


He left Las Vegas with two handguns and made his way to South Orange County. He surveyed a church in Laguna Woods and decided he was going to take the lives of innocent people, because… well… who knows what actually compelled him to engage in barbarism? (And, honestly… outside of preventing this from happening again… who really cares about this piece of human excrement?)


What we do know is that a hero was also present that day. A hero that happens to be a good friend of mine and my wife, my daughter’s physician, and a longtime member of the Artemis Defense Institute.


Dr. John Cheng is… was… just that. A hero. His greatest achievement, ultimately, was laying down his life so that others may live.


Three weeks ago John, the LTC, and I got together for lunch. It was our pathetic way of thanking him for a massive amount of work he had done for us pro bono. When Dr. Cheng learned about our trial down in San Diego, and realized that our client was a military NCO, who was suffering a severe injustice, he volunteered to serve as an expert witness. The amount of forensic work he performed for this soldier’s defense was staggering. After the case was over, our client reached out to John to tell him how grateful he was. John’s response was typical…


“You have sacrificed so much for my family and me… this is the least I can do.”


That was John.


John’s step-father passed away a few months ago. He has been consoling his mother. She had reached the point where she wanted go out to church. John decided he would take her, hence his presence at that church that fateful morning… he was chaperoning his mother.


When the monster arrived, people started getting shot. John did the unimaginable… he rushed the shooter. He tackled the monster and held him at bay. His act of extreme bravery compelled other parishioners to act as well. Ultimately, they were able to subdue the shooter and save countless lives.


Sadly, in the scrum John was fatally struck by the shooter.


He was the single fatality that day.


He risked his life, gave his life, so that others may live.


John made a split-second decision to not tolerate tyranny. We talked often about the concept of tyranny and injustice.


John would oftentimes book both my 9am and 12pm “Range Day with Steven and Sandy”, a live-fire shoot at Prado. It was his opportunity to get out of the office and train with live fire. During those shoots, and especially during the one-hour break between classes, John would bring me lunch and we would talk about philosophy, medicine, and politics.


From those conversations, I learned John and I shared a similar hatred towards tyranny. John felt that when confronting those who would use force against another, a duty existed to resist the tyrant.


He trained for two reasons he told me: one, because he wanted to know that his skills, both ballistic and non-ballistic, were as sharp as possible should the need arise, and, two, because it was just plain fun.


That mindset saved lives last Sunday.


Dr. Cheng is survived by his wife and two children. We will always miss him and be inspired by him.


We lost a hero last Sunday… his memory, though, will never fade.


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Comments (9)

  • Warner Carr Reply

    John was a colleague of mine. We have shared lots of patients along the way and we are both small business owners of private medical practices. It has been very hard with COVID, the economy, and the craziness of medicine during this time period. John has always been there for the community. John’s heroic actions, John’s selfless actions to protect others reminds of me my time in combat. Your heart drops the first time you see someone killed in combat but knowing that the cause of freedom is a valiant one gives that persons death meaning. Knowing John is dead makes my heart drop. Knowing the man and knowing that the cause was a fight against evil gives even more meaning to the life he lived. I remember the face of each person that I took care of as a combat physician and now I will add John’s face to that collage. John was a man, not a perfect man, not a man without fault but a man whose heart was in the right place and a man who loved his family, his mother and what this country stands for. A man that improved our community and someone who did not deserve to die. God Speed John……God Speed.

    05/18/2022 at 08:25
  • Olaf Kilthau Reply

    I left with the question, “There are Taiwanese congregations in Las Vegas, so why this church in particular?”

    05/18/2022 at 08:49
  • Glenn Okamoto Reply

    Excellent Eulogy Steven

    Tribute to a fellow Artemis which I consider every member a brother for life!

    05/18/2022 at 09:44
  • Troy Reply

    Our sincerest condolences to Dr. Cheng family and friends. I got an opportunity only once to meet Dr. Cheng, which was during an Artemis town hall ‘What’s driving our kids to kill? How do we stop it?” I was moved by his opinions on the topic based on his point of view as a physician and a father. Although this event was over 3 years ago, it has had a lasting impression on how I view tyranny and other senseless acts of violence and how I choose to be vigilant. Our prayers are with Dr. Cheng’s family and others who had to witness such senseless violence.

    05/18/2022 at 12:36
  • Mike P Reply

    Not all warriors wear Camo.

    Until Valhalla, Warrior.

    05/18/2022 at 12:53
  • Paul lichtenstein Reply

    My sincerest condolences on the untimely loss of your friend Dr. Cheng and to his family for losing their Husband and Dad!!

    05/18/2022 at 18:42
  • Dave R Reply

    My heart hurts after hearing the news about John. The man I met and trained with for a couple of years on Wednesdays at Artemis was a serious student and an inspiration to be next to on the line. John was a Christian man who took his faith seriously and loved his family very much. My prayers are with John’s family. We lost a true hero!

    05/18/2022 at 22:35
  • April Reply

    John was my best friend even though we don’t live in the same state. We had so much in common and alike. We were each other’s life support during this plandemic. A few minutes before he sacrificed he texted me. Even the tragedy only happened within seconds, I knew he had thought through his plans. He was always ready to help others because he was born to be a protector. He heals people with his kindest heart. His action did not surprise me because that’s who he was. He was my hero even before he was sacrificed. He was a true patriot who fought for freedom. I am beyond devastated knowing that he is gone. He will always be in my heart forever!

    05/20/2022 at 20:27
  • Johnna Gherardini Reply

    Awesome eulogy. Just to clairify John Cheng did not have a step father. His actual father passed away 3 months prior to his heroic death.

    03/30/2023 at 16:46

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