Police swarm church after hoax call about gunman inside with rifle

Police swarmed a Catholic church in Long Beach Sunday morning after getting a false report of someone inside with a rifle, according to authorities.

Heavily armed officers rushed to Holy Innocents Church at 20th Street and Pasadena Avenue where they evacuated the building, but authorities now believe the call was a hoax.

The Rev. Peter Irving said he was in the rectory when officers in tactical gear arrived around 11:45 a.m. and told him and others to leave.

Police evacuated the building. Photo by Stephanie Rivera.

Police evacuated the building. Photo by Stephanie Rivera.

The church was between services, Irving said. The 10 a.m. mass had finished with the next one starting at 1 p.m., he said.

Officers set up a perimeter around the church but weren’t able to find anyone who matched the description of the supposed gunman, LBPD spokeswoman Jennifer De Prez said.

It wasn’t immediately clear who made the call. Whoever phoned police hung up after saying there was a gunman, De Prez said. Police believe the report was unfounded, she said.

Police outside Holy Innocents Church. Photo by Stephanie Rivera.

Police outside Holy Innocents Church. Photo by Stephanie Rivera.

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Stephanie Rivera is the immigration and diversity reporter for the Long Beach Post. Growing up as one of six kids in the working-class immigrant suburb of South Gate, she was taught the importance of civic engagement and to show compassion for others. After graduating from CSULB with a degree in journalism, Stephanie worked for Patch Latino and City News Service before coming to the Long Beach Post in 2015. An avid Harry Potter fan, Stephanie now lives in Bixby Knolls with her boyfriend and their bearded dragon, Austin.