US & Canada

Scientology church shooting: Man with sword shot dead in LA

Church of Scientology Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Police were called to the church to reports of a man with a large sword

A man armed with a sword was killed and two police officers injured by gunfire at a Church of Scientology in California, authorities say.

Police gave few details but said the man entered the Los Angeles church with a "very large sword" on Wednesday.

Two police officers attended and the suspect was fatally shot in the head, Inglewood Police told US media.

The officers also suffered injuries, with one shot in the hand and the other in the arm, the LA Times reported.

Detectives were still trying to establish whether the suspect - who arrived at the church in a white Bentley - had a gun, Inglewood Police Lt Oscar Mejia told reporters on Wednesday.

Two police investigations and a district attorney's investigation are talking place into the incident.

Around five people were inside the church when the man entered at about 15:30 local time (22:30 GMT), Lt Mejia said.

It is not known why the suspect, who has not been named, entered the church or if he had any accomplices, authorities say.

In a statement, The Church of Scientology thanked police for their efforts and said it would cooperate with the investigation.

The Church of Scientology's Inglewood branch opened in November 2011, according its website.

It is based about 16 km (10 miles) south of the church's main Celebrity Centre in LA, which attracts famous actors, politicians, musicians and athletes.

What is the Church of Scientology?

Scientology was founded by American science fiction author L Ron Hubbard in 1952.

He said human beings contained the souls of Thetans - immortal creatures responsible for making the Universe - but also said the world had been invaded by dark forces and individuals could be cleansed and enlightened only through intense therapy called Dianetics.

It is a costly process and the Scientologists expect their adherents to donate considerable sums.

In the US, where Scientology has attracted a number of Hollywood celebrities such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta, it enjoys the full rights of a recognised religion.