The celebration of Mass at a southern California parish was interrupted by an armed police pursuit of a suspected gunman on Tuesday morning. Source: CNA.
The incident occurred during the 8.30am Mass at St Joseph Catholic Church in Placentia, Orange County.
As the priest was elevating the Eucharist just after the consecration, officers entered the sanctuary, shouting at a suspected gunman hiding among the attendees, according to reporting by local news station KCAL News. The incident was captured on the parish’s Mass livestream, though the video appears to have since been taken down.
Video excerpts taken from the Mass livestream by KCAL News show the priest raising the host and chalice, praying the words, “Behold, the Lamb of God” as police begin shouting in the back of the church. The video shows the priest lower the host and parishioners raise their hands as the scene unfolds.
Nick Sherg, a deacon at St Joseph parish who was present at the Mass, said the police apprehended the suspected gunman without a struggle and that the man is “a known parishioner who was subsequently released without charge”.
Sgt Joe Connell, a representative for the Placentia Police Department, confirmed the incident occurred. He said that the man apprehended had been reported firing at least one shot from a handgun in the vicinity and was then seen entering the church.
“Officers entered during Mass due to the fact that we had information of an armed subject being inside. If we waited until Mass was over and the parishioners were leaving, the situation could have potentially become worse,” Sgt Connell said.
He said police “spoke with the priest during this entire incident and after” and that “once the church was made safe and the male was in our custody, we had everyone go back inside and complete Mass”
Mass at California Catholic church interrupted by armed police pursuit (By Peter Pinedo, CNA)