Two dead in California church shooting

By The Associated Press

FRESNO, Calif. — A Mormon bishop in Visalia was killed Sunday when a man entered the church complex, asked for the church’s leader and then shot him, police said. The suspect later called police, who found the man a short time later in a central Visalia neighborhood and fatally shot him.

The victim was identified as Clay Sannar, 42, the father of six boys, including a 6-month-old infant. Police did not identify the suspect.

Police and church officials said they don’t know what prompted the shooting, which occurred in the foyer of the church about 12:35 p.m.

Ralph Jordan, a church leader, said it appears the suspect didn’t know Sannar. “The suspect is not a member of the church,” he added.

Jordan said the man “asked for the leader of the church,” and then shot Sannar. Jordan said the shooting occurred between the morning and evening services, so there weren’t many people on the church campus at the time.

Police chief Colleen Mestas said the suspect drove away from the church and called police about 1:04 p.m., telling officers he had shot the bishop and where he could be found. Officers located him and they exchanged gunfire, Mestas said. Officers fired on him multiple times, hitting the suspect. He was taken to Kaweah Delta Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

The Tulare County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the officer-involved shooting, Mestas said.

Sannar was general manager of Soil Basics, an agricultural supply company in Visalia.

Scott Henriksen, a church member, said Sannar was a wonderful family man. and was well liked.

“We’re devastated. There’s only one word: Shocked. This is something that should not happen,” he said.

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(c) 2010, The Fresno Bee (Fresno, Calif.).

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