Monday, August 30, 2010

Visalia 2nd Ward Bishop Shot During Church

The Salt Lake Tribune is reporting that a tragic event has occurred today in Visila, California on Tulare Avenue where a Bishop Clay Sannar of the Visalia 2nd Ward was killed by a gunman during Church: 
"Bishop Clay Sannar, 42, was shot in his office during a break between scheduled Sunday services, officials said.
Several people were in the area, police said, but it’s unknown whether there are eyewitnesses to the 12:30 p.m. shooting of Sannar. The first service at the church ended at noon and the second was scheduled to begin at 1 p.m., church officials said.
The suspected shooter was shot by police minutes later. The suspect’s condition has not been released, but a Tulare County Coroner’s Office vehicle was at the scene.
Sannar was general manager at the Soil Basics fertilizer company in Visalia, according to the company’s website. He was the father of six children, a church spokesman said Sunday."
The Fresno Bee is reporting that there are no known connections between the suspect and the victim:
"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 at Burrel Avenue and Divisadero Street 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."
Mormonism Unveiled suggest that there may be a possible motive for the shooting but it is highly unlikely: 
"In reviewing comments posted to the various media outlets, there has been concern expressed about the possibility that this bishop may have been politically targeted. First, the shooter didn't ask for the bishop by name; the shooter merely asked for "the president or bishop". Second, I've now learned that Clay Sannar contributed $1,500 in support of California Proposition 8, but that was two years ago and it would seem like that's no longer an issue. Until we find out more about the shooter, this should remain speculative only."
 If more details emerge, we'll post it as an update.

UPDATE (8.30.10): The shooter has been identified as Kenneth James Ward of Modesto California. No motive has been developed yet.

UPDATE #2: The brother of the shooter is claiming that Kenneth James Ward was an ex-Mormon who had psychiatric issues: 
"The brother of the man police say shot a church leader Sunday says his brother was mentally ill and felt wronged by The Church of Jesus Christ Latter-Day Saints – a church he was a member of in the 1980s.
Mike Ward, the younger brother of Kenneth Ward, 47, says his brother took their grandfather's handgun and shot lay Bishop Clay Sannar because Ward felt that that a Bishop, not Sannar, had wronged him in 1988."
UPDATE #3: A fund has been set up to help the Sonnar Family. You may donate here.

UPDATE #4 (8.31.10): The LDS Church has confirmed that the shooter, Kenneth James Ward, was an former member of their Church. 

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