Gunman Killed by Police During Incident at California Catholic Church

Police detectives investigated the scene where an armed man was shot at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Santa Ana, Calif., on Sunday.
Credit…Leonard Ortiz/The Orange County Register, via Associated Press

An armed man who entered a Southern California church in between Masses died on Sunday after an officer-involved shooting, the authorities said.

The episode happened at about 4:15 p.m. at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Santa Ana, Calif., according to a police spokesman, who said that officers had been responding to two unrelated calls in the immediate vicinity when witnesses reported that an armed man went inside the building.

The spokesman for the Santa Ana Police Department, Cpl. Anthony Bertagna, said the authorities did not know if the man was killed by the police, or if he fatally shot himself. The authorities previously said they believed the man was shot by an officer in the church.

Corporal Bertagna was not able to say whether the man fired his weapon at the officer or how many shots were fired by the officer.

“This individual is believed to have been distraught over some family issues and was potentially inside the church to do harm to himself,” Corporal Bertagna said. “We got extremely lucky in the fact that this was between Masses.”

Corporal Bertagna said there were about 15 people inside the church, none of whom were harmed. He said the man fled from the church and collapsed in the street about 100 yards from the building, where he was pronounced dead.

Chief David Valentin of the Santa Ana Police told reporters that, based on the initial investigation, “this was not a mass casualty-intended incident.”

Click here to read more.

SOURCE: The New York Times, Neil Vigdor and Mariel Padilla