Skip to comments.Ex-Mormon shot Calif. bishop, brother says (update) [ECUMENICAL]
Posted on 08/30/2010 1:46:40 PM PDT by markomalley
VISALIA, Calif., Aug. 30 (UPI) -- A California man who died in a gun battle with police after fatally shooting a Mormon Church bishop felt wronged by another church bishop, his brother said.
Police identified Kenneth James Ward, 47, of Modesto, Calif., as the man who shot to death Bishop Clay Sannar, 42, at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Visalia Sunday before dying in a shootout with police less than 2 miles away, the Visalia Times-Delta reported.
Mike Ward of Bakersfield told the newspaper his older brother Kenneth took their grandfather's handgun and shot Sannar, a father of six, because he believed he had been "shunned to hell" by another bishop in 1988.
That could explain why Ward walked asked for a "bishop" or "president" when he walked into the church and shot Sannar, his brother said, but Kenneth did not know Sannar.
After shooting Sannar, Ward called police, then led officers to his childhood home, where he was killed by officers.
Visalia Police Capt. Rick Haskill said Sannar was shot several times, the Deseret News in Salt Lake City reported.
If the guy was holding a grudge since 88, I’m guessing just a garden variety nutjob.
If this guy felt his Bishop 30 years ago as condemning him to hell (which is not what Bishops do, they try to get people to forsake their sins, and embrace the Atonement) then he was likely involved in serious morality issues. This is just my opinion of course, but the article says he was mentally ill. A lifetime of guilt from a horrible habit of repeated sin just might do that to someone.
“shunned to hell”
There is no such thing in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. There are other churches that “shun” people but not the LDS. When someone screws up, we are taught to love that person even more until they come back to full fellowship.
Good point. I was kind of wondering if homosexuality was his reason for feeling like he had been shunned. The fact that the homosexuals seem to be encouraging violence would explain why he became violent after 20 years.
The media isn’t going to be too forthcoming if that’s the case.
Yes, it is too bad he didn't find forgiveness of his sin through the atonement of Jesus Christ. He might have felt like he could never be perfect enough to earn God's love. Such a tragedy!
Why did the repoter not ask the brother why he felt shunned?
It seems to me to be the obvious follow-up question.
Love the sinner, hate the sin.
It’s called agency. Some people do, some people don’t.
Look, for example, at Glenn Beck’s story. He certainly embraced the Atonement and changed his life around.
I am still trying to figure out where being gay is in the article?
Media isn’t trained to ask proper questions, much less proper follow-up questions. They have no common sense, they still don’t know why people aren’t buying their papers. Besides why waste time on a question that has an answer that probably won’t fit the media template for the story, it’d just be cut out anyway.
I keep telling the paper promo guy at my food store trying to offer me a free copy that I don’t have a bird. He keeps asking me if I want one.
It wasn’t. I’m just wondering if that’s why the guy felt that he had been shunned some 20 years ago.
Apparently that particuliar Mormon church didn’t “love this guy all the more, until he returned to that group”...
It is really a shame these 6 kids will not have their father...heartbreaking for them. How do you possibly explain this to children? Very sad ordeal.
That’s why there is no use speculating. But I am certain this man never found saving grace through the atonement. How do I know?
I haven’t seen the mention of his being gay...or that he was mentally unstable....(other than a family member saying he was so and why that was) anywhere other than implied here on FR. Maybe someone could enlighten with a link?
Man, I have been feeling the special love all day long on FreeRepublic - I just can’t wait to get back in </ sarcasm>
You’re right. There has been an effort here to link this to Prop. 8. But, for now, there is absolutely no evidence of a connection. The article quotes the brother saying the shooter was mentally ill. It could have been some mental illness other than homosexuality. (And, yes, I know about the APA’s purely political vote. It was ridiculous.)
Kenneth James Ward
the shooter's brother Mike Ward said that Kenneth had been a member of the LDS faith in the 1980s, but felt 'shunned to hell' by a bishop. Mike Ward said thier family was raised LDS, and that they used to attend church in the same building where the shooting took place.
Mike Ward, a brother of the shooter, told reporters that Kenneth Ward was mentally ill and believed the Mormon church was "out to get him."
Bishop Clay Sannar
Sannar was called by the church to be bishop just four months ago. He was a man of faith, and a father of six.
Jordan said, Just a few months ago he had his sixth baby boy.
11:06 a.m.: A man who identified himself as Mike Ward, a brother of the shooter, told reporters that Kenneth Ward was mentally ill and believed the Mormon church was “out to get him.”
(of course I am being facetious)
That’s true. The beard isn’t neat enough.
he believed he had been “shunned to hell” by another bishop in 1988.
Good link. Tells a lot more about the back story.
Apparently that particuliar Mormon church didnt love this guy all the more, until he returned to that group...
You have no idea. They may have done all they possibly could and his mental illness kept him from straightening himself out. Your reply statement hints as accusatory to me.
Yes that link has more info thanks.
The man who shot and killed a Mormon church leader Sunday in Visalia suffered from mental illness and did not know his victim, the gunman's brother said today. Kenneth James Ward “was a lovable guy, but that monster would overtake him,” Mike Ward said. “He had mental problems and he struggled with them...
He said his brother was diagnosed with mental illness — he declined to be more specific — about 10 years ago. When Kenneth Ward was on his medication he was fine, but when he didn't take his medication he would go through episodes, Mike Ward said....
During the episodes, Kenneth Ward would express anger toward the church, his brother said. Mike Ward said there were no physical or sexual abuse or other incidents that might explain why Kenneth Ward would be angry toward the church. Kenneth Ward was excommunicated from the church but regained his membership in the late 1980s and believed in the church's tenets, Mike Ward said. He said he didn't believe the excommunication was a cause of the shooting. Ward said, however, that his brother had not attended church in recent years. There was no connection between the Sannar and Ward families before Sunday's shooting
It sounds like schizophrenia to me. About half of those cases tend to lean strongly to religious issues.
Do you have a link for this? I would like to read the entire article.
It was posted above.
I’m sorry I didn’t see it. Can you give me the post #?
Oh yes. I followed your comments upthread and didn’t see that this was in response to #23. Thanks.
This is interesting:
2:10 p.m.: The father of Kenneth Ward, the shooting suspect, said his son had bipolar disorder and had animosity for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of which the suspect is a former member.
“He was definitely anti-Mormon and yet he was raised in it,” George Ward told the Modesto Bee. “I don’t understand how that happened.”
George Ward said his son took medication that controlled the symptoms of his mental disorder.
Early Sunday, Kenneth Ward left the Modesto home where he lived with his wife and 6-year-old son, telling his father he was going fishing with a friend. When the father called the friend later that day, the friend said he knew nothing about a fishing trip.
George Ward said his son, the oldest of three children, served in the first Persian Gulf war against Iraq, and believes his loud and erratic behavior after returning home was caused by post-traumatic stress disorder.
There is nothing anyone can do to stop all of these nut cases, and getting God and religion mixed all up in their heads is common. We may as well look into which brand of frozen pizza he buys as to which church he has some tenuous connection with. That hearing of God telling them to murder all the kids and so on is their own little trip.
I have a family member who is schizophrenic, and he can get violent when he’s not on his meds. For him, everything is about religion.
I remember the talk by President Faust that he gave after the horrible Amish murders. He talked about how we Mormons would do well to follow the example of the Amish in the aftermath of their great tragedy. I have been thinking a lot about his talk today. I miss President Faust but his words still ring in my heart.
The Healing Power of Forgiveness
President James E. Faust
Second Counselor in the First Presidency
If we can find forgiveness in our hearts for those who have caused us hurt and injury, we will rise to a higher level of self-esteem and well-being.
My dear brothers and sisters and friends, I come before you humbly and prayerfully. I wish to speak on the healing power of forgiveness.
In the beautiful hills of Pennsylvania, a devout group of Christian people live a simple life without automobiles, electricity, or modern machinery. They work hard and live quiet, peaceful lives separate from the world. Most of their food comes from their own farms. The women sew and knit and weave their clothing, which is modest and plain. They are known as the Amish people.
A 32-year-old milk truck driver lived with his family in their Nickel Mines community. He was not Amish, but his pickup route took him to many Amish dairy farms, where he became known as the quiet milkman. Last October he suddenly lost all reason and control. In his tormented mind he blamed God for the death of his first child and some unsubstantiated memories. He stormed into the Amish school without any provocation, released the boys and adults, and tied up the 10 girls. He shot the girls, killing five and wounding five. Then he took his own life.
This shocking violence caused great anguish among the Amish but no anger. There was hurt but no hate. Their forgiveness was immediate. Collectively they began to reach out to the milkman’s suffering family. As the milkman’s family gathered in his home the day after the shootings, an Amish neighbor came over, wrapped his arms around the father of the dead gunman, and said, “We will forgive you.”1 Amish leaders visited the milkman’s wife and children to extend their sympathy, their forgiveness, their help, and their love. About half of the mourners at the milkman’s funeral were Amish. In turn, the Amish invited the milkman’s family to attend the funeral services of the girls who had been killed. A remarkable peace settled on the Amish as their faith sustained them during this crisis.
One local resident very eloquently summed up the aftermath of this tragedy when he said, “We were all speaking the same language, and not just English, but a language of caring, a language of community, [and] a language of service. And, yes, a language of forgiveness.”2 It was an amazing outpouring of their complete faith in the Lord’s teachings in the Sermon on the Mount: “Do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.”3
The family of the milkman who killed the five girls released the following statement to the public:
“To our Amish friends, neighbors, and local community:
“Our family wants each of you to know that we are overwhelmed by the forgiveness, grace, and mercy that you’ve extended to us. Your love for our family has helped to provide the healing we so desperately need. The prayers, flowers, cards, and gifts you’ve given have touched our hearts in a way no words can describe. Your compassion has reached beyond our family, beyond our community, and is changing our world, and for this we sincerely thank you.
“Please know that our hearts have been broken by all that has happened. We are filled with sorrow for all of our Amish neighbors whom we have loved and continue to love. We know that there are many hard days ahead for all the families who lost loved ones, and so we will continue to put our hope and trust in the God of all comfort, as we all seek to rebuild our lives.”4
How could the whole Amish group manifest such an expression of forgiveness? It was because of their faith in God and trust in His word, which is part of their inner beings. They see themselves as disciples of Christ and want to follow His example.
Hearing of this tragedy, many people sent money to the Amish to pay for the health care of the five surviving girls and for the burial expenses of the five who were killed. As a further demonstration of their discipleship, the Amish decided to share some of the money with the widow of the milkman and her three children because they too were victims of this terrible tragedy.
Forgiveness is not always instantaneous as it was with the Amish. When innocent children have been molested or killed, most of us do not think first about forgiveness. Our natural response is anger. We may even feel justified in wanting to “get even” with anyone who inflicts injury on us or our family.
Dr. Sidney Simon, a recognized authority on values realization, has provided an excellent definition of forgiveness as it applies to human relationships:
“Forgiveness is freeing up and putting to better use the energy once consumed by holding grudges, harboring resentments, and nursing unhealed wounds. It is rediscovering the strengths we always had and relocating our limitless capacity to understand and accept other people and ourselves.”5
Most of us need time to work through pain and loss. We can find all manner of reasons for postponing forgiveness. One of these reasons is waiting for the wrongdoers to repent before we forgive them. Yet such a delay causes us to forfeit the peace and happiness that could be ours. The folly of rehashing long-past hurts does not bring happiness.
Some hold grudges for a lifetime, unaware that courageously forgiving those who have wronged us is wholesome and therapeutic.
Forgiveness comes more readily when, like the Amish, we have faith in God and trust in His word. Such faith “enables people to withstand the worst of humanity. It also enables people to look beyond themselves. More importantly, it enables them to forgive.”6
All of us suffer some injuries from experiences that seem to have no rhyme or reason. We cannot understand or explain them. We may never know why some things happen in this life. The reason for some of our suffering is known only to the Lord. But because it happens, it must be endured. President Howard W. Hunter said that “God knows what we do not know and sees what we do not see.”7
President Brigham Young offered this profound insight that at least some of our suffering has a purpose when he said: “Every calamity that can come upon mortal beings will be suffered to come upon the few, to prepare them to enjoy the presence of the Lord. . . . Every trial and experience you have passed through is necessary for your salvation.”8
If we can find forgiveness in our hearts for those who have caused us hurt and injury, we will rise to a higher level of self-esteem and well-being. Some recent studies show that people who are taught to forgive become “less angry, more hopeful, less depressed, less anxious and less stressed,” which leads to greater physical well-being.9 Another of these studies concludes “that forgiveness . . . is a liberating gift [that] people can give to themselves.”10
In our day the Lord has admonished us, “Ye ought to forgive one another,” and then makes it requisite when He says, “I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.”11
A sister who had been through a painful divorce received some sound advice from her bishop: “Keep a place in your heart for forgiveness, and when it comes, welcome it in.”12 For the Amish, it was already there because “forgiveness is a ‘heartfelt’ component of [their] religion.”13 Their example of forgiveness is a sublime expression of Christian love.
Here in Salt Lake City in 1985, Bishop Steven Christensen, through no fault of his own, was cruelly and senselessly killed by a bomb intended to take his life. He was the son of Mac and Joan Christensen, the husband of Terri, and the father of four children. With his parents’ consent, I share what they learned from this experience. After this terrible deed, the news media followed members of the Christensen family around relentlessly. On one occasion this media intrusion offended one of the family members to the point that Steven’s father, Mac, had to restrain him. Mac then thought, “This thing will destroy my family if we don’t forgive. Venom and hatred will never end if we do not get it out of our system.” Healing and peace came as the family cleansed their hearts from anger and were able to forgive the man who took their son’s life.
We recently had two other tragedies here in Utah which demonstrate faith and the healing power of forgiveness. Gary Ceran, whose wife and two children were killed on Christmas Eve when their vehicle was hit by a truck, immediately expressed his forgiveness and concern for the alleged drunk driver. Last February, when a car crashed into Bishop Christopher Williams’s vehicle, he had a decision to make, and it was to “unconditionally forgive” the driver who had caused the accident so that the healing process could take place unhampered.14
What can we all learn from such experiences as these? We need to recognize and acknowledge angry feelings. It will take humility to do this, but if we will get on our knees and ask Heavenly Father for a feeling of forgiveness, He will help us. The Lord requires us “to forgive all men”15 for our own good because “hatred retards spiritual growth.”16 Only as we rid ourselves of hatred and bitterness can the Lord put comfort into our hearts, just as He did for the Amish community, the Christensens, the Cerans, and the Williams family.
Of course, society needs to be protected from hardened criminals, because mercy cannot rob justice.17 Bishop Williams addressed this concept so well when he said, “Forgiveness is a source of power. But it does not relieve us of consequences.”18 When tragedy strikes, we should not respond by seeking personal revenge but rather let justice take its course and then let go. It is not easy to let go and empty our hearts of festering resentment. The Savior has offered to all of us a precious peace through His Atonement, but this can come only as we are willing to cast out negative feelings of anger, spite, or revenge. For all of us who forgive “those who trespass against us,”19 even those who have committed serious crimes, the Atonement brings a measure of peace and comfort.
Let us remember that we need to forgive to be forgiven. In the words of one of my favorite hymns, “Oh, forgive as thou wouldst be e’en forgiven now by me.”20 With all my heart and soul, I believe in the healing power that can come to us as we follow the counsel of the Savior “to forgive all men.”21 In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
1. In Joan Kern, “A Community Cries,” Lancaster New Era, Oct. 4, 2006, p. A8.
2. In Helen Colwell Adams, “After That Tragic Day, a Deeper Respect among English, Amish?” Sunday News, Oct. 15, 2006, p. A1.
3. Matthew 5:44.
4. “Amish Shooting Victims,” www.800padutch.com/amishvictims.shtml.
5. With Suzanne Simon, Forgiveness: How to Make Peace with Your Past and Get On with Your Life (1990), 19.
6. Marjorie Cortez, “Amish Response to Tragedy Is Lesson in Faith, Forgiveness,” Deseret Morning News, Jan. 2, 2007, p. A13.
7. “The Opening and Closing of Doors,” Ensign, Nov. 1987, 60.
8. Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe (1954), 345.
9. Fred Luskin, in Carrie A. Moore, “Learning to Forgive,” Deseret Morning News, Oct. 7, 2006, p. E1.
10. Jay Evensen, “Forgiveness Is Powerful but Complex,” Deseret Morning News, Feb. 4, 2007, p. G1.
11. D&C 64:9, 10.
12. In “My Journey to Forgiving,” Ensign, Feb. 1997, 43.
13. Donald Kraybill, in Colby Itkowitz, “Flowers, Prayers, Songs: Families Meet at Roberts’ Burial,” Intelligence Journal, Oct. 9, 2006, p. A1.
14. See Pat Reavy, “Crash Victim Issues a Call for Forgiveness,” Deseret Morning News, Feb. 13, 2007, p. A1.
15. D&C 64:10.
16. Orson F. Whitney, Gospel Themes (1914), 144.
17. See Alma 42:25.
18. In Deseret Morning News, Feb. 13, 2007, p. A8.
19. Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 6:13.
20. “Reverently and Meekly Now,” Hymns, no. 185.
21. D&C 64:10.
Thank you! I miss President Faust too. He was truly one of the Lord’s disciples.
What a humble man.
” Visalia’s police chief said church leader Clay Sannar tried to prevent the shooter from harming anyone else. She called him a hero.
“Sannar ‘yelled for everyone to get out of the building,’ Police Chief Colleen Mestas said today. ‘He really did act with heroism.’”
I am so proud of this Bishop. He was “One Good Man.”
Yep...nothing about being gay in news...But Whatever his beef was with the Bishop and or the Mormon church I wouldn’t think that all those years would have gone by before he acted. Something is amiss here. Hopefully as the investigation continues a better picture will unfold of this event....doubtful it’s a sanity issue either...every murders family claims that up front. He drove over a hundred miles to take this guy out...so all these ‘clues’ need to paint a better picture than what is here so far.
Just because a family member states there was a mental issue doesn’t make it so...it is common for family members to claim insanity in murder cases...it is a way they use to cope with the unimaginable happening in their family.
The facts are not complete yet and until there is an official report it’s all speculation. I never accept the insanity issue until proven so...it is just another legal loophole to get people off until otherwise proven one way or another.
Nor do I buy the mental illness issue until that is proved. Families always use this as a way to cope with the fact of murder in their family, for that matter any other crime.
I'd like to know if the man has a history of other crimes as well. Also...just exactly when did the family cease to be practicing Mormons, which seems to be implied, and or their association with the church rituals etc.
If this man had mental issues...going thru the Mormon rituals as they were twenty years ago would have amplified his problem. So allot yet to discern and discover in this situation.
But very sadly there are 6 kids now without a father...and the shooters family having to deal with their loss and the tragedy. The truth is hard to find when emotions are so ripe. Denial from the shock also comes into play. It will take time to unlock what really happened.
Just because a family member states there was a mental issue doesnt make it so...it is common for family members to claim insanity in murder cases...it is a way they use to cope with the unimaginable happening in their family.
The facts are not complete yet and until there is an official report its all speculation. I never accept the insanity issue until proven so...it is just another legal loophole to get people off until otherwise proven one way or another.
I guess one thing to determine is where does a mental illness transition into insanity? Personally I think anyone who would do this has mental issues and it matters not if the victim is a religious leader of any type or the donut man etc.