They say Kenneth James Ward, 47, shot Bishop Clay Sanner, 40, before Ward was killed in a shootout with police. Investigators say a motive for the crime remains unclear.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gathered outside their Visalia meetinghouse Sunday in shock, mourning the loss of their bishop.
Church leader Ralph Jordan said, "We are sure going to miss Bishop Sannar. We pray for his family and we extend our hearts and hands to them as well as those who know them."
Witnesses said Ward walked into the LDS church building visibly upset about something and asked to speak to a church leader.
"He didn't come in asking for Clay Sannar or reference the name at all," Jordan said. "Instead he may have been asking for the president, the bishop or the leader."
Police said after a brief conversation between the victim and gunman, Ward shot Sannar twice -- once in the foot and once in the face.