Authorities are investigating an attack on a Phoenix Roman Catholic Church rectory that left one priest dead and another in critical but stable condition, police said on Thursday.
The attack took place about 9 p.m. Wednesday at the rectory attached to Mater Misericordiae Mission near the Arizona state Capitol building, city police Sgt. Steve Martos told the Los Angeles Times. When officers arrived they found one priest with gunshot wounds and the other assaulted, but not shot, he said.
Both priests were rushed to a hospital. Father Kenneth Walker, 28, died from the gunshot wounds and Father Joseph Terra, 56, was listed in critical condition on Thursday, Martos said.
In a statement, the Diocese of Phoenix identified the priests as belonging to the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter.
“The police are still gathering information and trying to sort through the details of this senseless act of violence,” the diocese stated. “We ask that people offer prayers for both priests, the religious community, their families and the parish.”
There was no immediate motive for the attack, Martos said, though burglary is one possibility.
Nor was there any immediate description of the assailant or assailants, the sergeant said.
When police arrived they saw that a garage door was open and that one of the cars was missing. The car, a 2003 Mazda, was recovered about four blocks away and is being examined, Martos said.