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Visalia, Calif. • A Mormon church official was shot dead between services on Sunday, and less than an hour later, the man suspected of the crime also died after a shootout with police.
Clay Sannar, 42, a lay bishop with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Visalia, southeast of Fresno, died after being shot in his office, said Visalia police chief Colleen Mestas.
Soon after the first shooting, a caller identified himself to police as the shooter. Police responded, and there was a confrontation with several shots exchanged, said Mestas.
The suspect was hit multiple times. He was taken to nearby Kaweah Delta Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. He has not been identified yet. No officers were injured, Mestas said.
Tulare County sheriff's deputies are taking over the investigation of the shootout involving the police officers. The sheriff's department did not immediately return calls for comment.
Visalia police continue to investigate Sannar's shooting, but have not identified a motive.
"We have several detectives out actively investigating this so we can come up with answers, especially for the family," said Mestas. "It's just tragic."
Sannar was the general manager of Soil Basics, a fertilizer company in Visalia, according to the company's website. He had six children, including a 6-month-old infant.
Ralph Jordan, a church leader, said the suspect walked into the church complex, asked for a leader of the church, and shot Sannar. He seemed to not know Sannar.
"The suspect is not a member of the church," Jordan added.
In a prepared statement, LDS spokesman Scott Trotter described the shooting as "tragic."
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the Sannar family and all who knew Bishop Sannar," Trotter wrote.
Other members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints congregation described Sannar as a well-loved family man. One of his sons is less than 6 months old.
"We're devastated," said Scott Henriksen, 47, a church member. "There's only one word: shocked. This is something that should not happen."
Henriksen told The Visalia Times-Delta that he had known Sannar for about 18 years, and he was "very good, hardworking. A great family man."