Sunday, August 29, 2010

LDS Bishop Clay Sannar Fatally Shot At Chapel In Visalia, California; Suspect Shot By Police, Dies In Local Hospital

Update September 3rd: Updated post about funeral service for Clay Sannar available HERE.

Special Note: A fund has been set up for the Sannar family; donations solicited. Click HERE for information.

An official of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been shot at the LDS Chapel located at 825 W. Tulare Avenue, near Conyer Street and across from Mt. Whitney High School in Visalia, California around 12:30 P.M. on Sunday August 29th, 2010. Initial stories from the Fresno Bee, the Visalia Times-Delta (the best coverage so far), KGPE Channel 47 Fresno, the Deseret News, KSL Channel 5, and KSTU Channel 13. An updated video from KSEE Channel 24 in Fresno is embedded below:

The Times-Delta now identifies the victim as Clay Sannar (pictured above left), a bishop called to head up the Visalia 2nd Ward four months ago. Sannar was also the general manager at the Soil Basics fertilizer company in Visalia. Church spokesman Ralph Jordan said no one at the church recognized the shooter, and that the shooter did not ask for Sannar by name but instead asked for “the president or the bishop.” The shooting took place during a break in Sunday services.

The shooter then took off in a car that was parked outside, drove about a mile, then called police. He told police where he was and when police showed up minutes later at Divisadero Street and Burrel Avenue, the suspect opened fire, and police returned fire injuring him. The San Jose Mercury-News now reports the suspect, who remains unidentified, died at a local hospital. Update August 30th: The shooter has now been identified as 47-year-old Kenneth James Ward of Modesto.

LDS Church spokesman Scott Trotter issued a statement, saying, "At this tragic time, our thoughts and prayers are with the Sannar family and all who knew Bishop Sannar."

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. And indeed, information has now emerged indicating that Proposition 8 was not an issue in this crime. Mike Ward, the brother of Kenneth James Ward, explained that Kenneth is a former LDS member who was mentally ill and felt that another LDS bishop had "wronged" him in 1988. The LDS Church has now confirmed that Kenneth Ward is a former member who resigned in 2004.


John said...

All I know is that he was serving the Lord at the time of his death and for that I admire and respect him. Whether you believe what he did, you should still be able to respect his dedication to what he knew to be true. God bless Bishop Sannar

Jack Mormon said...

Absolutely, John. That's the most important part of the story.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in the same home as the Sannar family and I went to school with Clay's younger brother Blaine. This is so tragic and nearly unbelievable. I can't believe he was so recently called as Bishop and now dead because of it. So, so sad. My hopes and prayers are now with his wife and children.

Jake said...

Who on earth would kill a Bishop?

I mean, seriously? How and why would a person who is not an LDS member, do that?

It is sad, though, by the way.

Anonymous said...

How is it possible to be hurt by a bullet if one is wearing safety clothing??