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Priest killed in attack on Phoenix church, 1 injured, police say

Priest222.jpg

From the left, Fr. Kenneth Walker, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix and Fr. Joseph Terra, are seen here in this undated photo.http://www.catholicsun.org

One priest was shot and killed and another seriously wounded Wednesday night in an attack at a Catholic church in downtown Phoenix, police said.

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.

According to Martos, one of the priests had been shot and died at the hospital. The other priest is hospitalized in critical condition with unspecified injuries, he said. According to Martos, the injured 56-year-old priest was able to call 911 and direct authorities to the church. The attack occurred in the rectory. Investigators are still trying to determine if robbery was a motive, Martos said. Police are also unsure how many attackers were involved.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix on Thursday identified the slain priest as the Rev. Kenneth Walker and the injured priest as the Rev. Joseph Terra. It is believed that Terra called authorities.

Terra and Walker served as pastor and assistant pastor, respectively, according to the church website. They both belonged to the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. Church officials say Walker was 29 years old and asked for prayers for Walker's family, as well as for "the health and complete recovery" of Terra.

Martos says police found a car they were seeking in connection with the attack. He says the car was empty when it was located about four blocks north of the church.

Authorities held a press conference Thursday morning and said they are tying the sort through physical evidence. They said at this point in the investigation, a witness would be helpful in describing the attackers.

"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.

Rorate Caeli, an online blog widely read in Vatican circles, said Walker was born in upstate New York near Poughkeepsie. He was the middle child among a family of 11 kids. He was ordained in May 2012.

The Associated Press contributed to this report 

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