An official with the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City and St. Joseph confirmed a priest died by suicide Tuesday morning on St. James Church property.

St. James Church shots fired 2

The St. Joseph Police Department responded to a shooting-related call in the area of St. James Catholic Church on Tuesday morning. A News-Press NOW reporter on scene saw officers entering the rectory entrance, left, adjacent to the main church entrance off King Hill Avenue.

Jeremy Lillig, communications director for the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City and St. Joseph, said the Rev. Evan Harkins took his own life. According to Lillig, Harkins did not show up for morning Mass.

He added that a communication will be sent out to parents who have children in the school.

St. Joseph police responded to a shooting call at the location Tuesday morning. According to Captain Jeff Wilson of the St. Joseph Police Department, the incident occurred in a "private area."

A News-Press NOW reporter on scene saw uniformed police officers and detectives enter the rectory, which is adjacent to the main church entrance off King Hill Avenue.

Wilson said the neighboring school was never in danger.

An all-city Mass including students from the city's Catholic schools scheduled for Wednesday at LeBlond High School has been postponed.

According to Harkins' LinkedIn page, he served as a parochial administrator for St. Patrick's church in addition to his role as pastor at St. James. He also served as an administrator for St. Rose of Lima in Savannah.

Harkins had served as a pastor at St. James beginning in 2012, according to the church's website.

"In the face of this devastatingly tragic news, we ask that you pray for Fr. Harkins, his family, and the parish and school communities that he served as well as all of our priests," the diocese said in a statement. "We will communicate further as we are able."

Matt Hoffmann can be reached

at matt.hoffmann@newspressnow.com.

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