Nick Sherg, a deacon at St. Joseph parish who was present at the Mass, told CNA that about 40 police officers entered the sanctuary with guns drawn. Sherg said that the police apprehended the suspected gunman without a struggle and that the man is “a known parishioner who was subsequently released without charge.” 

Sherg called the incident “surreal” but said that he never felt afraid for his safety because he “never saw any acts of aggression or violence by the suspect.” 

“I actually felt comforted knowing that the police responded in such a timely, professional and efficient manner,” he said. “My sense is that they were unaware of the intent of the suspect and wanted to do their job as quickly as possible.”

Sgt. Joe Connell, a representative for the Placentia Police Department, confirmed with CNA that the incident occurred. He said that the officers chose to enter the church during Mass out of concern for the safety of the parishioners and nearby schools

Connell 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. While Connell said that the officers entered with guns drawn, he said there were “approximately 10 officers,” not 40. 

“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,” Connell explained.