LUBBOCK, Texas — Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center posthumously honored Dr. John Cheng on October 21 for tackling a shooter that opened fire in the Geneva Presbyterian Church in California in May.

Cheng was the only person killed in the attack, while five others were injured.

Dr. Cheng graduated from the TTUHSC School of Medicine in 1995.

Cheng’s wife Elise was presented the first TTUHSC Presidential Award for Heroism for his actions, according to a release.

“We believe the Texas values of kindness, empathy and humility John learned growing up in Marshall and attending school in Waco and Lubbock molded his view on life and his vision on the doctor-patient relationship he strived to create,” Elise said.

TTUHSC President Lori Rice-Spearman said the award represents “the highest award bestowed upon the TTUHSC alumni,” the release said.

Read the release by TTUHSC below:

John Cheng, M.D., was known to many as a protector — protector of family, patients and many times protector to strangers. Cheng’s heroic actions saved dozens of lives on May 15, 2022, when he tackled a gunman who opened fire on members at the Geneva Presbyterian Church in California. Cheng was killed in the attack that left five other parishioners wounded.

Cheng’s wife Elise was presented the first TTUHSC Presidential Award for Heroism to honor him posthumously at the TTUHSC Distinguished Alumni Awards Ceremony on Oct. 21. Cheng, the son of a physician, was respected for his knowledge of nutrition and sports medicine, and was an accomplished master in Martial Arts instruction.

TTUHSC President Lori Rice-Spearman, Ph.D., said it is rare, outside of the military or first responders that someone gives their life to protect others — an ultimate sacrifice. This award represents the highest award bestowed upon the TTUHSC alumni.

“Dr. Cheng’s heroic acts reflected his lifelong dedication to service,” Rice-Spearman said. “In a moment of crisis, he placed the lives of his neighbors before himself — and by every account, that act of selflessness and courage, which cost him his life, saved the lives of many others. It was heroism in its purest form. We are deeply proud to honor the example and the legacy he leaves behind.”

Cheng was a 1995 graduate of the TTUHSC School of Medicine. He completed his residency at UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine and the Kaiser Permanente Southern California in Los Angeles. He also completed a fellowship at the Kaiser Permanente Southern California in Fontana. He earned a reputation as an energetic student and resident who was deeply devoted to patient care and carried that same ethic to his practice in Southern California, where he served the community as a beloved family and sports medicine physician. Cheng’s colleagues at South Coast Medical Group said his heroism saved so many people, not only at that church, but throughout his career.

“On behalf of my family, I would like to thank our Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center family for honoring my husband, John, in such a heartfelt and meaningful manner,” Elise said. “We believe the Texas values of kindness, empathy and humility John learned growing up in Marshall and attending school in Waco and Lubbock molded his view on life and his vision on the doctor-patient relationship he strived to create. For my husband, his patients were extended family members and he partnered individually with them to motivate and support their health care journey. John’s genuine connection with his patients will remain the hallmark of his medical legacy.”