Remembering a Hero: Dr. John Cheng

Dr. John Cheng, B.A. ’91, M.D., grew up in Marshall, Texas, the son of a physician who served the East Texas town for more than 30 years. After graduating from Marshall High School, Cheng made his way to Baylor University. A 1991 Bachelor of Arts graduate, Dr. Cheng followed in his father’s footsteps and pursued medical school at Texas Tech School of Medicine. He completed his residency at UCLA and built a thriving family and sports medicine practice in Southern California. 

Dr. John Cheng, B.A. '91

Dr. Cheng was Medical Director for the South Coast Medical Group in South Orange County and was widely known for his kind manner and humble spirit. He established a culture of care that encouraged his staff to approach their medical practice with attention to the whole person. 

He was a husband and father of two children who served at his church and taught martial arts. He also volunteered at local high schools, caring for student-athletes and was Medical Director for the health center at Soka University located near his clinic. According to his staff, he loved to teach and share his love of medicine with the next generation of healthcare providers.

Dr. Cheng died a hero on May 15, 2022, when he tackled and attempted to disarm a gunman who attacked the parishioners of Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church where he was visiting with his mother. The church worships in space at Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, California. Dr. Cheng’s actions allowed others to intervene and subdue the shooter and saved dozens of lives. Dr. Cheng was the lone fatality in the attempted mass shooting. 

During Dr. Cheng’s time at Baylor, he was a member of Kappa Omega Tau (KOT) Fraternity. He is remembered by his friends and fraternity brothers as a servant leader who put others before himself and for his favorite quote: “Character is not developed in a crisis, it is only exhibited.” 

In honor of his life and work, friends of Dr. Cheng and alumni of Baylor’s KOT Fraternity have established the John Cheng Endowed Scholarship to benefit students who are pursuing Baylor’s pre-med program. To support this scholarship, visit