World & Nation

Police said they will not stop looking for Phoenix priest killer until arrest

Phoenix police said they are still searching for at least one gunman who killed a Catholic priest and injured another at the Mater Misericordiae Mission in downtown Phoenix.

“We will continue to investigate, today, tomorrow and every day until we arrest the guy,” Phoenix Police Sgt. Tommy Thompson said Friday. “We are utilizing all our resources to solve this crime.”

Police also released a limited description of one of the assailants, describing him only as a 40-year-old white male.  

On Wednesday night, at least one assailant entered the Roman Catholic Church and shots were fired. Father Kenneth Walker, 28, died later from gunshot wounds. Father Joseph Terra, a 56-year-old pastor, was not shot but was assaulted. He managed to call police, who quickly responded.


As of Friday, he remained hospitalized in critical but stable condition.

The motive is still unknown.

 “This was a very tragic and appalling criminal violation,” Police Chief Daniel Garcia told reporters.

The priests belong to the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, which celebrates the Mass in Latin and draws worshipers from all over the city.


The Rev. Fred Adamson, vicar general of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix, said at a televised news conference Thursday: “They were there for four years and felt it was a safe place to live.”

He said he was unaware of any concerns or special security precautions taken by Terra.

“If someone came and asked for anything, he would give them the shirt off of his back,” Adamson said.

Walker was ordained about two years ago. “He was known to be a man of prayer, a simple man,” Adamson said.

When police arrived, they rushed the priests to a hospital.

Authorities also saw that a garage door was open and that one of the cars, a 2003 Mazda, had been taken. It was recovered about four blocks away. The rectory and car were being examined, Garcia said. Investigators were also seeking surveillance tapes from the area.

The original call came in as a robbery, but Garcia said it was too early in the investigation for police to confirm that was the reason for the break-in.