The unidentified man approached three guards around noon in the parking lot of the Scientology Celebrity Centre, Los Angeles Deputy Police Chief Terry S. Hara said.
The man was "close enough to hurt them" when one of the guards shot him, Hara said. Detectives were questioning the guard to figure out the swordsman's motive and determine whether the shooting was justified.
Surveillance tape showed the man arriving at the center's parking lot in a red convertible, then approaching the guards with a sword in each hand, Hara said.
"The evidence itself, it's very, very clear," Hara said. "The security officers were defending their safety."
Calls to Scientology spokespeople were not immediately returned Sunday.
The Celebrity Centre includes a seven-story Norman-revival landmark that towers over the Hollywood freeway and used to be a residential hotel for movie stars.
The castle-like facility now serves as "a home for the artist, a place where he can come and learn, attend seminars, meet other artists and even perform at our many showcases and events," according to the center's Web site.
The Church of Scientology was established in 1945 by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard. It teaches that technology can expand the mind and help solve problems and claims 10 million members around the world, including celebrity devotees Tom Cruise and John Travolta.
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