Catholic Priest Shot to Death in Tijuana

A Roman Catholic priest was found shot to death in his car with his hands cuffed in the rough border city of Tijuana (search) on Monday, in what police said appeared to be an organized-crime killing.

Tijuana Bishop Rafael Romo (search) said "the Church has been wounded," and called on city residents to unite against the drug and crime-fueled violence along Mexico's border.

"We feel wounded by this violence ... because we hear about it every day, and now it has hit us," said Romo. "It is no longer time to wait and see which of us gets hit next, but rather to realize that we must unite in this battle against crime."

Parish priest Luis Velasquez (search), 51, was found in his car, which had been left near a shopping mall parking lot. Ordained more than 20 years ago, Velasquez was an expert in church law.

He was assigned to a parish church in the Colinas de Agua Caliente (search) neighborhood, which is where many drug gangs in Tijuana operate.

Romo said "I have no information that he had received any death threats."

The method in which the killing was carried out suggests "at first sight" a murder by organized crime gangs, said Francisco Castro Trenti, homicide director for the Baja California state attorney general's office.