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Little known about man who allegedly shot Visalia bishop

August 30, 2010 |  1:59 pm

The Modesto man accused of fatally shooting a Mormon bishop had ties to the Central Valley city where the victim’s church was located, authorities said Monday.

Kenneth James Ward, 40, entered the church in Visalia on Sunday afternoon and asked to speak to someone in charge. He then approached lay bishop Clay Sannar, 40, and shot him, authorities said.

After the shooting, Ward drove to a nearby pay phone and called police, telling them he had shot the bishop and where they could find him, police said.

When police arrived, Ward pointed his gun and fired at officers, according to authorities, before being shot and killed. No officers were injured. 

Ward was pronounced dead soon after, authorities said.

Sgt. Steve Phillips of the Visalia Police Department said it was unclear if Ward, who either had lived in Visalia or had relatives there, had any connection to the church.

He said authorities are unsure if he knew Sannar.

“We may never know his motive,” Phillips said.

The slain bishop was said to be a father of six boys and a manager at a local agricultural services business, according to the company’s website.

-- Robert Faturechi