Questions Remain After Sword-Wielding Suspect Is Fatally Shot by Inglewood Police, Officers Hit by Gunfire at Church of Scientology

Many questions remain after a sword-wielding suspect was fatally shot by police and two officers were hit by gunfire during an encounter at a Church of Scientology in Inglewood Wednesday afternoon.

Police surround the scene of a deadly officer-involved shooting at the Church of Scientology in Inglewood on March 27, 2019. (Credit: KTLA)

Police surround the scene of a deadly officer-involved shooting at the Church of Scientology in Inglewood on March 27, 2019. (Credit: KTLA)

The deadly incident was reported about 3:30 p.m. when the suspect pulled up to the church at 315 Market St. in a Bentley. Armed with what was described as a samurai sword, he went inside as church services were going on.

The suspect was wearing a hoodie and a mask, and had the sword strapped to his back when he walked in, Luiz Gonzalez, humanitarian program director at the church told KTLA on Thursday. The suspect started threatening parishioners.

One Inglewood police officer responded to the scene first before being joined by a second and they confronted the suspect in the lobby, Lt. Oscar Mejia told reporters Wednesday.

It is unclear exactly what happened before the shooting occurred, but the suspect was struck and critically injured by police gunfire in the lobby of the building. The officers were also shot, one in the hand and one in the arm, police said.

In a statement Wednesday night, the Church of Scientology thanked the Inglewood Police Department for their "rapid response."

"These officers are doing a heroic job protecting the community and keeping houses of worship safe against hate crimes," the statement read. "We have offered our full support to the authorities who are investigating this incident."

Police have not released a possible motive behind the incident.

The suspect was taken to a hospital where he eventually died, Mejia said. He has not been identified and was only described as an Asian male. Investigators are looking into whether he had any ties to the church, but Gonzalez said the suspect was not a parishioner there.

The officers suffered minor injuries and were also taken to the same hospital.

It is unknown if the suspect was also armed with a gun, therefore it is unclear how the officers were shot. Police are looking into the possibility that the officers might have been hit by friendly fire, or that bullets ricocheted.

Numerous people were inside the church when the shooting occurred, Mejia said, and they were being interviewed. In addition, investigators were reviewing video to try and piece together what occurred.

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