May 17, 2007, 6:06 AM PDT
A man suspected of being the samurai-wielding arsonist who sliced a man's arm and set fire to two bungalows on the grounds of a church in Lake View Terrace was fatally shot tonight in a confrontation with police officers, police said.
The suspect was killed in the Tujunga Wash near the Foothill (210) Freeway about 6:30 p.m., says Officer Jason Lee of the LAPD's Media Relations Section.
It was close to the All Nations Church where the fire occurred in the 10000 block of Foothill Boulevard, Lee said.
Officers searched all day for the suspect after giving up a hunt for him about 10 p.m. yesterday.
Plain clothes officers saw the suspect about 6:30 p.m. and he fled to the Tujunga Wash near the Foothill Freeway a short distance away from the church.
The suspect was declared dead at the scene, Lee said.
Police and firefighters went to the church around 6:30 p.m. yesterday after a man dressed in army fatigues went inside and brought his sword down on a man playing the drums, said Officer Karen Smith of the Los Angeles Police Department's Media Relations Unit.
The sword sliced the man's arm when he tried to block the blow, Smith said, adding he was taken to a hospital, treated and released.
The suspect then fled the building and police chased him for a short time before he ran into a storm pipe and got away, she said.
The suspect also apparently set fire to two one-story bungalows on the church's property, Roy Myers of the Los Angeles Fire Department said. Firefighters had the flames under control within 30 minutes, he said.
The House of Worship Task Force, which consists of representatives from the Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles Fire Department and FBI and investigates church fires, is investigating the crime, Smith said. There was no immediate indication of the assailant's motives.
The suspect was described as a man in his 40s with tattoos on both arms.