PHOENIX (AP) — One priest was shot and killed and another was wounded Wednesday night in an attack at a Catholic church in downtown Phoenix, police said.
The Diocese of Phoenix on Thursday identified the slain priest as Father Kenneth Walker, 28, and the injured priest as Father Joseph Terra, 56. Fathers Terra and Walker served as pastor and assistant pastor, respectively. They both belonged to the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, a worldwide religious order founded in order to celebrate the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite.
Sgt. Steve Martos said police received a call about a burglary at the Mother of Mercy Mission near the state Capitol shortly after 9 p.m. Responding officers found two priests badly injured."Father Terra was found to have sustained severe injury to his body. He was taken to an area hospital in extremely critical condition," according to a police department statement. "While inside the rectory, officers located Father Walker who had sustained a gunshot wound. He was immediately transported to an area hospital where he later succumbed to the injury he sustained."The department statement said that officers searched the facility and quickly discovered the garage door was open and a vehicle was missing. "Officers learned one of the victim’s vehicles was missing and began a search for this vehicle. The vehicle, a 2003 Mazda Tribute, was located approximately four blocks north of the crime scene at approximately 11:15 p.m.," the statement said. No motive has been determined and no suspect has been identified, it added.
According to Martos, the injured priest was able to call 911 and direct authorities to the church.“We are stunned and deeply saddened to learn of the tragic assault perpetrated last night against Father Joseph Terra and Father Kenneth Walker,” the diocese said in a statement. The diocesan newspaper, The Catholic Sun, reported that both priests were known for their “stalwart efforts on behalf of the unborn" and regularly prayed in front of abortion clinics.The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter issued a brief statement saying Father Walker was ordained a priest in 2012.
"When you're talking about individuals who are coming into a location like this to a church facility, commit a crime like this against individuals who are victims like this one can only imagine what they were likely to do," Martos told KTVK-TV.