Police shot and killed an armed man inside a church in Santa Ana on Sunday afternoon, officials said.
The deadly encounter unfolded about 4:20 p.m. at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, 1100 S Center Street, Santa Ana Police Department Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said.
Officers happened to be across the street investigating unrelated reports when witnesses told them that there was a man with a gun inside the church, Police Chief David Valenti said. Officers rushed to respond and encountered the armed suspect.
“They did, in fact, come across a male adult who was armed with a gun,” he said. “An officer-involved shooting occurred inside the church near the alter.”
The wounded suspect then ran out of the church and collapsed about 100 yards away from the entrance, Valenti said.
Paramedics pronounced the suspect dead at the scene, officials said. A gun was found next to him.
It was not clear Sunday night whether the suspect fired his gun, or what exactly prompted officers to open fire.
Police said they were initially looking into reports that a possible second suspect remained at large, but ultimately determined there was no second suspect, according to Valenti.
No injuries to officers or bystanders were reported. Police said there were 10 to 15 people inside the church when the shooting took place.
The parish was scheduled to host a Spanish-language Mass at 5 p.m., according to the church’s website.
“Thankfully, by the grace of God, this incident occurred between Mass services,” Valenti said.
The facility was also being used as a Vote Center for the ongoing election, according to the Orange County Registrar of Voters said in a written statement.
“Vote Center staff and voters have been evacuated and are safe,” the statement said. “An active criminal investigation is taking place and the Santa Ana Police Department is asking the public to stay away from the vicinity of the area.”
Valenti said there was no indication the church was targeted by the suspect.
Based on initial investigation, “This individual was distraught and potentially suicidal,” the chief said. “It was not intended to be a mass-casualty incident.”
The investigation was ongoing.