August 30th, 2010
02:02 AM ET

Mormon bishop shot dead in California

A Mormon bishop was shot and killed in Visalia, California, on Sunday, police said.

The suspected gunman was killed later in the day in a gunfight with police, Visalia California Police Chief Colleen Mestas said.

Bishop Clay Sannar, 42, was shot dead in an office at Visalia's Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Mestas said.

About 20 minutes after the shooting, police got a call from the suspect, who told them where he was heading, Mestas said.

Officers intercepted the suspect and a gunfight ensued, during which the suspect was killed.

Church members tell police the gunman was a stranger who hadn't been seen at the church before.

"I've got a dozen investigators trying to sort this out right now," Mestas said. "We've got to get some answers for his [Sannar] family."

Unlike in some religious traditions, Mormon bishops lead individual churches, not regions or groups of churches.

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Filed under: California • Crime
soundoff (51 Responses)
  1. quarles635

    Murder is wrong, period. Religion is a generally well-intentioned fairy tale for the insecure.

    August 30, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • JD

      Thanks for telling us murder is wrong.............and for sharing your ignorance with us........

      August 30, 2010 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kim in Kansas

      and we live happily ever after...

      August 30, 2010 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Bill Call

    Two lives were lost. Two families mourn. As a brother and member of the LDS Church, my heart goes out to the family of Bishop Sanna. However my heart also goes out to another brother's family, that of Kenneth Ward. The Lord's has love for both. He atoned for both. My thoughts and prayers are with both men's families.

    August 30, 2010 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Deb

      That is what I was thinking. Even though this guy was mentally disturbed, his family loved him and didn't want anything bad to happen to him or to anyone else through him. War can do bad stuff to the survivors as well as to those who die. Thank God for the sacrifice of His Son, and for knowing our hearts. And God bless all of those families who are suffering from this tragedy.

      August 31, 2010 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
  3. JustMom42

    We can speculate forever on the motive of this senseless crime. Be it a prop 8 opposer, someone who didn't qualify for help under the church guidelines, or just someone who hates mormons (they're out there) The police I'm sure will let us know when it becomes apparent.
    One fact of the matter is, most mormons are the sweetest, most generous, most blameless people I have ever met in my life. If "good-est" was a word it would apply better than any other. Bishops are the best of the best out of that, so killing one has to be on par with killing nuns or small children.
    This guy Ken Ward... or whatever, had to have been a real troubled person to do such a thing (obviously) But I guarantee, Sannar's family has already forgiven him for the horror he has inflicted on them, just like the Amish did with that school shooter.
    My heart goes out to the Sannar's , and for that matter, Ken Ward's family, who didn't ask for this either.

    August 30, 2010 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  4. LV_Priest

    I was told to come here and read the horrible things people were says. I am very glad to see that they have been erase. My god watch and comfort the family. But he was needed in heaven more.

    August 30, 2010 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  5. KAken

    My heart goes out to the Sannar and Ward Families for both of their losses.

    August 30, 2010 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
  6. martin ryan

    I was a member of the mormon church to 2000 before my sin of living defacto relationship and was excomunicated
    fair enough....5 years later while living overseas, was inteviewed by a good standing USA authority who found
    me worthy of re-baptism and told me to hang in there for 6 months as it was all going ahead with first presedency
    final approval...... A few months later my wife had her visa to return to australia. We re-settled and I fasted to
    be ready to face this new bishop that was called, the son of a ruthless mormon dicator in the 80s that little to
    his knowledge led me to attempted suicide, after his ignorance of my mental illness, commanded me to go on a mission
    or be dammed as he even had the cheek to ring me that night... Now I was facing the son.
    My worse nightmare become reality when I was called into his office after I asked for an inteview for re-baptism
    he had claimed by revelation that I was to be TERMINATED ON THE SPOT, without any question.
    I went to the stake president and he told me that my mental illness gave out a negitive behaviour vibe.
    This was not new to me suffering with manic depression since the 80s.
    I never did get re-baptised. Now another 5 years in the future after pleading, justice has truly robbed mercy.
    My letters were rejected. I wrote serveral times to Saltlake head quauters and also rejected.
    I became angry and turned to legal drugs. My family split up. My kids declined baptism into the church discusted
    the way I was being treated here in Perth Dianella ward Stake, western australia.
    The new bishop also rejected my letters for me to attend the local ward.

    Lieing in a ditch, a good samariton stopped to help me while a modern day so called levite (mormon)priest walked
    on by to get to the temple, only throwing salt in my wounds.. I was led to the real jesus of love and forgiveness.

    Mormonism is twisted doctrine. It hardly ever leaves the 99 sheep to go after the one lost sheep.
    It is a discriminating and historic racial organization that justifies it is the only true god on earth.
    It promotes intense pressure,fear and guilt even murder.

    I dont justify what this ex mormon soldier did killing the wrong bishop, while the one that originally hurt him
    got away with it. I lived to see the father stake president of the church here, of the son who terminated me
    excomunicated eventually and devoiced in his marrige. The son is actaully worse, because his father
    apologised to me years later....... I know that the son of a dicator will never apologise. This time it cost me
    my family and permanent damage by his discrimination.

    The man will pay, in gods time as his father had paid. I know others who feel the same way toward this pig of
    an arrogant man......His own wife looks run down and hagged putting up with him.
    Wonder how he would feel if he lost his family...

    Mormonism is a dangerous discriminating relegion and is not a christians bootlace. It cannot handle nor tolerate
    the mentally ill. All it would of taken was compassion, a hug but NO that is to hard for arrogant mongrel leaders
    in the church...... There will be more trouble raizing its ugly mormon head as leaders continue to put themselfs
    above the good news of the bible to promote a rotten egg self-rightous welcomed members while all true
    non judgmental christians would hardly ever be found in such a church..

    christians catch the fish first and christ cleans them.
    mormon clean the fish first and the devil catches them...

    The good news of the bible teaches us to surrender our filthy rags of rightousness and enter into christ
    rightousness and christ perfection, not our own vain striving mormon efforts. Mormonism provokes
    the worse crimes in so called christian relegion, no better than pagen catholic rome, except Rome admitts
    blatenly it is above the bible but mormons are the last say, the last authority of all texts....What a beast a horn
    that leaves bloody wounds and more blood shed to come.

    Thank god I found the real jesus. The war is not over. Mormonism with all its opposition is not because its true
    but because its filthy with stuck up moral self-rightousness, everything but christian. To hell with mormonism. (australia)

    August 31, 2010 at 7:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Sarah

      Sorry you feel that way:(

      September 2, 2010 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      You sound so Christian talking like that. I"m glad we all have such a wonderful example to look up to. I'm glad you are so happy with your new found faith that you are able to share the joy you have found in Jesus. One day I hope to be as happy as you are, :).

      September 4, 2010 at 3:24 am | Report abuse |
  7. Debra

    My condolences to both families of the deceased and their friends. May they receive comfort and support during the trying times ahead. May healing come in time as they grieve and deal with their loss and what will become for them the new normal.

    Has a bank account or some other fund been set up for the newly fatherless family? I feel helpless in a situation like this, but I would like to help in any small way I can.

    August 31, 2010 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Alex Wilson

    sad to have lost such a productive, generous man. He was a business owner, hard working father of 6, who dedicatd as much free time as possible to serve his community and God. We have lost a great man and we will miss him....

    August 31, 2010 at 11:38 pm | Report abuse |
  9. LW

    martin, you can not hate all mormons because 1 did you wrong. even if a few did you wrong, you can not hate all. If a ______ (insert race here) person did you wrong, you would not hate all of that race because you do not know everyone of that race and if you do then you would be racist. Same goes here. It's like saying "a man offended me, so I hate all men and hope they burn in hell" that sounds stupid, right? so does what you say

    September 3, 2010 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. LW

    my thoughts and prayers go out to his family and loved ones. GOD BE WITH YOU TIL WE MEET AGAIN

    September 3, 2010 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
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