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Priests attacked at Phoenix church, 1 dies


PHOENIX (AP) -- A priest was shot and killed and another was injured at a Roman Catholic church in downtown Phoenix, setting off an intense search for suspects and clues into what police called a "tragic and appalling" attack.

The surviving priest called 911 to report a burglary at the Mother of Mercy Mission near the state Capitol around 9:30 p.m. Wednesday and administered last rites to the wounded clergyman while waiting for police to arrive. The Rev. Kenneth Walker died at the hospital, and the Rev. Joseph Terra, 56, is hospitalized in critical condition with unspecified injuries.

Police have no suspects at this point. They are searching the neighborhood, interviewing the injured priest and examining physical evidence from the scene. Investigators said they are unsure how many attackers were involved and if robbery was the motive.

Police Chief Daniel Garcia called it a "tragic and appalling criminal violation."

As police investigated the crime scene at the church, about a dozen parishioners gathered across the street, kneeling on the sidewalk and saying the Lord's Prayer in response to the loss of their beloved clergyman. A bouquet of flowers and a photograph of the dead priest lay on the sidewalk.

Parishioner Diane sobbed as she spoke of Walker and Terra and the "senseless acts of cruelty" that were carried out.

"They will be truly missed in this parish. Very peaceful people, very peaceful men, loving, kind and charitable," Harmon said.

"They are truly concerned about the sanctity of souls, and saving souls," she added. "It's hard to imagine, but that's unfortunately the society we're living in, a godless society. It's lawless."

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said the city was shocked and saddened as police pleaded for the public's help in identifying the suspects.

"The tragedy that occurred last night at the Mother of Mercy Mission church strikes at our core because every American should feel safe in a house of worship - and that basic value was violated last night in an unspeakable way," Stanton said.

Terra and Walker, 28, served as pastor and assistant pastor, respectively, and they both lived in the church, which is located along a gritty stretch of downtown Phoenix. The Rev. Fred Adamson, vicar general of the Phoenix Archdiocese, said both men believed the church "was a safe place to live."

"Father Terra is a pretty strong man. He's not afraid of anybody," Adamson said.

They both belonged to the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, and one of its hallmarks is leading Mass in Latin for worshippers.

Police found an abandoned car they were seeking in connection with the attack about four blocks from the church, Sgt. Steve Martos said.

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 children. He was ordained in May 2012.

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GERALD B. MAURER June 12 2014 at 5:22 PM

We had four American's slaughtered in Begghazi...what has the O'bama administration done ? How many American's here at home have been murdered, raped and killed in auto accidents by illegal aliens since O'Bama took office? Hundreds? President O'Bama chooses not to protect American's abroad - or at home. I say impeach him!

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50 replies
Carol June 12 2014 at 5:03 PM

Dear God, help us all :-(

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7 replies
Intense Insanity June 12 2014 at 5:11 PM

The world has gone totally insane these past few years ... What's so scary is that these senseless crimes are continuing to increase daily.

If the teachings of the Bible are indeed fact, and the second coming of Christ will actually happen, we're certainly likely to see it in our lifetime. If not ours, our grand children will most certainly will see it.

I simply can't imagine the world continuing to exist the way it is now!!

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25 replies
volcraze June 12 2014 at 5:06 PM

I'm beyond fed up with this type of story. There are far too many sickening people in this world.

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2 replies
pessimistic Walt volcraze June 12 2014 at 5:10 PM

Far too many people

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PACRIMCO volcraze June 13 2014 at 10:27 AM

So what do you want to do about it? Are you an informed voter? Do you vote in every election? Are you willing to work for change and donate to the political causes and candidates that reflect your opinions and beliefs? Are you part of the solution or part of the problem? Like the ripples caused by a pebble being thrown into a still pond, all major changes begin with the thoughts and actions of individuals and spread outwardly. Think of the life of Mother Theresa. She was fed up with the plight of the downtrodden poor of India and threw herself into that ocean of distress.

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acambrian June 12 2014 at 5:09 PM

Now, if those priests had been armed....

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9 replies
lynettemosley June 12 2014 at 5:09 PM

how sad people have no morals

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3 replies
Pharmacyanalyst June 12 2014 at 5:24 PM

Who would be so low down to attack a Priest? Must have been high on drugs or something. Certainly if they wanted food or shelter the church would have assisted them.

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11 replies
lindiana12 June 12 2014 at 5:11 PM

Sorry this happened but, the catholic church cannot cry "senseless acts of cruelty". Look at what they have let happen to our children (boys) and have gotten away with it! They have so many brainwashed it aint funny.

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47 replies
vidkid40 June 12 2014 at 5:45 PM

But it's all part of God's Plan, right?

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17 replies
aljoramaggio June 12 2014 at 10:38 PM

How very sad, such a young man to die, at 28, only a newly ordained Priest of less than 2 years. The Pastor, in critical condition.
Both working at a Mission which serves the poor and disfranchised, gunned down by a cowardly robber, probably hopped up on drugs.
I hope the guy who did this is caught quickly, and prosecuted even faster.
My condolences to the families of the victims.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
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