Man commits suicide at Crystal Cathedral altar

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Man Kills Self at Crystal Cathedral Altar, Ushers Say

GARDEN GROVE, Calif. — A man shot himself in the head Wednesday morning at the altar of the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove and died at the scene, police said.

Police were called at 9:40 a.m. to the cathedral at 12141 Lewis St., said Garden Grove police Lt. Todd Elgin.

Church ushers said that a middle-aged man entered the church, saying he wanted to pray. The unidentified man walked up three steps to the altar area, knelt before a gold cross and put the gun to his head, said John Charles, director of public relations for the church.

“I was at the door greeting and I said, ‘Welcome to the Crystal Cathedral. Where are you from?’ which we ask everybody. He said, ‘Oh, around here.’ He was in a hurry, but he wasn’t frustrated or anything — it didn’t look like that anyway,” said church volunteer Betty Spicer.

Spicer, 84, said the man handed her a note and said, “You may want this.”

“So he went on down to the cross, and I opened the note and saw that it looked like it was … a note that he was going to do something because he mentioned about a gun and about the pickup in the parking lot. And so, I didn’t have time to call 911. But before we knew it, we heard the shot,” Spicer said.

“He did not give any sign that he was going to do that. He just came, like any other tourist, to pray,” said pastor Juan Carlos Ortiz. “I think God will have mercy on him, because he must have been very desperate to do what he did.”

Charles said about six people, including a tourist group from Canada and one or two tour guides, were inside the church at the time. Volunteer Yvette Manson, 76, says she was explaining the church’s suicide hotline with tourists when she heard the shot.

“We were talking actually about the suicide prevention hotline that we have here at our church and telling them it’s opens 24 hours, seven days a week, and then just then, I heard this pop. Now the people that I was talking with were facing toward where the cross is. I had my back to the cross,” Manson said.

Manson told the tour group that the noise was a blown-out window.

“They said ‘No, that man just shot himself,'” Manson said.
[…]

The Crystal Cathedral’s founder, the Rev. Robert Schuller, was not on site at the time of the suicide.
[…]

– Source: Man Kills Self at Crystal Cathedral Altar, Ushers Say, Olsen Ebright, NBCLosAngeles.com via MSNBC, Feb. 19, 2008 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

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This post was last updated: Feb. 19, 2009