HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (CNS) — Security guards shot and killed a man who was reportedly wielding a sword at the Scientology Celebrity Centre in Hollywood Sunday, police said.
The shooting happened around noon, after a man carrying a sword went onto the grounds of the Scientology facility at 5930 Franklin Ave., said Los Angeles police Sgt. Lamont Jerrett.
The man, whose name has not been released, was approached by security personnel who later shot him in the parking lot of the center, Jerrett said.
The victim was taken to County USC Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Detectives at the scene were still investigating.
Jerrett would not provide any additional detail or say how many Scientology security agents were involved in the shooting.
Update, Nov. 24, 2008: Man Shot, Killed at Los Angeles Scientology Building Identifed
Update, Nov. 25, 2008: Swordsman Had Threatened Scientology Before
Officer April Harding said the man approached the guard in the parking lot of the Scientology Celebrity Centre International around noon Sunday.
Harding said the guard “felt threatened for his life” and fired at the unidentified man. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.
Homicide detectives have cordoned off the building in Hollywood to investigate.
Police detained the guard, who said the noon shooting was in self-defense, said Los Angeles Police Officer Karen Smith.
Investigators interviewed witnesses at the Franklin Avenue complex. Several officers gathered around a red sports car in a church parking lot on Bronson Avenue.
The castle-like structure, formerly a hotel, is a Hollywood landmark, its turrets visible from the nearby 101 Freeway. According to a church website, the Celebrity Centre caters to “artists, politicians, leaders of industry, sports figures and anyone with the power and vision to create a better world.”
Representatives for the church did not immediately return calls.
Police detained the guard for questioning but said a surveillance tape at the facility backed his claim that he fired his gun to protect himself and two colleagues.
“The evidence is very clear the security officers were defending their safety,” said Los Angeles Police Deputy Chief Terry S. Hara.
Authorities did not release the name of the guard or man killed in the 1:30 p.m. shooting. The tape showed the man arriving at the Celebrity Centre’s Bronson Avenue parking lot in a red convertible, getting out of the vehicle and approaching a trio of security guards while waving a sword in each hand, Hara said.
He said the man, who was described as being in his 40s, was “close enough to hurt them” when the guard fired. The man was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Police said the guard worked for a private security company.
Det. Wendi Berndt said the man was involved with the church “a long time ago.”
“There was a previous relationship, but it is unclear to what degree,” she said.
A teenager who saw the man arrive in the parking lot said he stopped the car abruptly in the driveway and climbed out with a 5-foot sword in his hand and an angry expression on his face.
Tony Marquez, 17, said the man, who was bald and had tattoos on his arms, walked toward the building, then returned to the car to get the other sword.
“I thought it was part of a show,” said Marquez, of Ontario. He and his mother entered the building before the shooting began.