VISALIA, Calif. – The gunman in a fatal shooting of a Mormon church official in Central California was a former member of the congregation who felt wronged when a bishop "shunned him to hell" in 1988, his younger brother said Monday.
Kenneth James Ward was mentally ill and remained upset by the incident that occurred more than two decades ago, his brother Mike Ward told the Visalia Times-Delta.
Kenneth Ward, 47, of Modesto walked into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Visalia between Sunday services and asked for the leader of the congregation, police said.
He was directed to lay Bishop Clay Sannar, 40, who was doing paperwork when he was shot and killed. Mike Ward, 44, said his brother didn't know Sannar.
After the shooting, Kenneth Ward called police to say he was the gunman and led them to his childhood home, his brother said.
Officers confronted Ward and exchanged gunfire, Visalia police Chief Colleen Mestas said. Ward was shot multiple times and pronounced dead at a hospital.
No police officers were injured.
Police have not yet determined a motive.
"We have several detectives out actively investigating this so we can come up with answers, especially for the family," Mestas said. "It's just tragic."
A voicemail left at Kenneth Ward's home was not immediately returned.
Sannar was the general manager of Soil Basics, a fertilizer company in Visalia, according to the company website.
Members of the 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. "This is something that should not happen."
Information from: Visalia Times-Delta