Rev. Eliseo Morales arrived early this morning to his Boyle Heights church – El Divino Salvador Presbyterian – to oversee its transition from deadly crime scene back into a house of worship. The last of the LAPD officials who were investigating Saturday afternoon’s deadly shooting in the church hallway left at 6 a.m. only a few hours before children and their families would stream into El Divino Salvador for Sunday school classes and services. “We did get some calls to see if the church would be open,” said church treasurer Patricia Hernandez.
But the 9:45 a.m. Sunday school classes and the 11 a.m. Spanish-language worship service took place as scheduled in the church on Echandia Street across from Prospect Park. Once the children were out of the main sanctuary, Rev. Morales briefed his congregation on the details of Saturday’s deadly stand off that took place in a hallway a few feet from the main entrance, where a parishioner pointed out small spots of dried blood on the front door.
The suspect entered the church through the front door after he had jumped out of an ambulance that was transporting him from jail, where he had recently been released, to a hospital for medical treatment, according to news accounts. After a 90 minute standoff, officers entered the church and were assaulted by the suspect, who was armed with a knife from the church kitchen. He was shot and killed by officers after the suspect stabbed an officer in an upper arm.
Church secretary Roger Arredondo said the church, which was founded about a century ago, was empty at the time of the break in. A janitor who would have been inside the building at that time had been delayed. The church’s front doors may have been unlocked but an alarm went off after the suspect entered, church officials said.
After updating his congregation on Saturday’s shooting, Rev. Morales then presented his sermon on “Giving the Best to God.”