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Rick Warren: Son who killed himself had unregistered gun

Saddleback Valley Community Church via Reuters

Matthew Warren, the son of popular American evangelical pastor Rick Warren

Evangelical pastor Rick Warren said that his son, who killed himself last week after a prolonged battle with mental illness, bought an unregistered gun over the Internet.

“Someone on the internet sold Matthew an unregistered gun,” Warren said Thursday on Twitter. “I pray he seeks God’s forgiveness. I forgive him.”

The youngest son of the popular pastor and author, 27-year-old Matthew Warren committed suicide last Friday. Warren’s Saddleback Valley Community Church in Lake Forest, Calif., announced his death the next day.

“In spite of America’s best doctors, meds, counselors, and prayers for healing, the torture of mental illness never subsided,” Warren wrote in a letter to church members. “Today, after a fun evening together with Kay and me, in a momentary wave of despair at his home, he took his life.”

The Orange County sheriff’s department has struggled to determine where the gun came from, The Associated Press reported. It is practically impossible to trace, sheriff’s spokesman Jim Amormino said.

“We can’t tell if it’s registered or not because the serial number is scratched off,” Amormino said. “At one point in time, it may have been, but it’s going to be impossible to find out.”

Background checks are required on all gun purchases in California, and defacing or altering a gun’s serial number is a federal crime.

The Orange County sheriff’s department was called to Matthew Warren’s home in Mission Viejo last Friday afternoon. They found him dead of an apparent suicide by gunshot, estimated to have been fired seven hours earlier.

The church called the pastor’s son “an incredibly kind, gentle and compassionate young man whose sweet spirit was encouragement and comfort to many” in a statement. “Unfortunately, he also suffered from mental illness resulting in deep depression and suicidal thoughts.”

Rick Warren delivered an invocation at President Barack Obama’s inauguration in January 2009, and is the bestselling author of “The Purpose Driven Life.” He has tweeted regularly about his son’s death.

Suicides accounted for 19,392 of the more than 31,000 gun-related deaths in 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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