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Suspected Mentally Ill Man Allegedly Steals Hearse Containing Casket During South LA Funeral

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A man who was suspected of being mentally ill allegedly stole a hearse that contained a casket during a funeral in South Park Saturday morning, according to Los Angeles Police Department officials.

A hearse containing a coffin was stolen from the Ebenezer Baptist Church. (Credit: KTLA)

A hearse containing a coffin was stolen from the Ebenezer Baptist Church. (Credit: KTLA)

Police responded to reports of a hearse being stolen from the Ebenezer Baptist Church, located at 4901 Avalon Blvd. (map), around 11 a.m., according to LAPD Sgt. Fillippo.

Witnesses said an older man climbed into the unoccupied hearse and drove off. The vehicle's motor was running before he entered it.

Multiple funeral attendees then followed the hearse, managed to get the man to pull over, and a verbal and physical confrontation ensued.

No one was believed to be injured during the incident, Fillippo said.

The man was taken into custody and expected to be charged with auto theft. His mental condition was also being evaluated.

The hearse and coffin were returned to the church and funeral services resumed.

Shirley Little, the wife of the church's pastor, told the L.A. Times she could not recall a similar incident in Ebenezer Baptist's 75-year history. "This is truly one for the books," she said.

KTLA's Steve Bien contributed to this report.