Manuel Garcia was waiting for his estranged wife and her new boyfriend when they came out of church in the central California city of Fresno, authorities said.
The new couple had attended a 7:30 a.m. Mass at St. Alphonsus Church on Sunday.
An hour later, officers were called to the church parking lot, where they found the couple in a car, both with gunshot wounds to the head.
Martha Garcia was dead. Her boyfriend, whose identity has not been released, died a little while later.
Manuel Garcia, authorities said, killed them both.
The shooting was the first deadly act of violence at an American house of worship on Sunday.
It shocked the Fresno community but received little attention outside the region and was soon eclipsed by the killing of 26 churchgoers in a Texas town 1,350 miles away.
Investigators in Texas say a man walked into First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Tex., on Sunday morning wearing all black and carrying a Ruger assault-style rifle he used to mow down more than two dozen people. The death toll stood at 26 after the massacre, but the figure could shift.
Police are still searching for a motive in the shooting, which in an instant became the worst mass killing at a church in the nation’s history. The attacker — described as a former serviceman in the Air Force — shot the people at the service before he came under fire from a local man and fled in a car chase.
He then ran off the road and apparently took his own life. Texas officials, early Monday, identified the attacker as Devin Patrick Kelley, of New Braunfels, about 35 miles north of Sutherland Springs.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and families of today’s murderous attack in Sutherland Springs, Texas,” President Trump said in a Sunday night statement. “This horrible act of evil occurred as the victims and their families were in their place of sacred worship. We cannot put into words the pain and grief we all feel, and we cannot begin to imagine the suffering of those who lost the ones they loved. Our hearts are broken.”
“So when we went there and other people went there, I saw the lady dead in the car, so she was shot dead, and the other man was on the floor there, a lot of blood,” Dominic Rajappa, a priest, told ABC affiliate KFSN.
Authorities said it appeared that the people in the car didn’t know that their killer was there until it was too late.
Manuel Garcia fled the scene, police said, but didn’t go far: Shortly after the shooting, his daughter called police saying she had received text messages from her father. He was at home and claimed he’d killed her mother and was planning to take his own life, KFSN reported.
He wanted her to know where she could find the possessions he was going to leave behind.
Responding officers outside his home on California Avenue tried to communicate with the man, but he wouldn’t respond. The only person he would contact was his daughter, who was still receiving text messages.
As they tried to figure out what to do, they heard a gunshot from inside the home.
A police robot sent into the house located Manuel Garcia — dead of a gunshot wound to the head, the weapon still in his hand.
At the Catholic church in downtown Fresno, parishioners tried to make sense of the sudden outbreak of violence outside their sanctuary.
“We are people of God, and we need to love God,” Rajappa said. “We need to love our neighbor. We need to teach our people with dignity. Violence, enmity, violence, hatred — there’s no place.”
With that in mind, Rajappa said the church decided not to cancel services.
Instead, its leaders and parishioners added the dead people outside their church to their prayers.