Phoenix priest shot dead, another wounded at Catholic church

A priest was fatally shot at a Catholic church and another was left critically injured, Phoenix police said early Thursday.

Officers discovered the two victims when they responded to reports of a burglary around 9 p.m. local time on Wednesday at the Mother of Mercy Mission in Phoenix's downtown district.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Phoenix identified the deceased priest as Fr. Kenneth Walker, 28, and the injured victim as Fr. Joseph Terra, 56.

"We are stunned and deeply saddened to learn of the tragic assault perpetrated last night," the archdiocese said in a statement, adding that both were members of The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter.

Officers arriving on the scene found Terra critically injured, Phoenix police Sgt. Steve Martos told NBC News.

Terra — who had called police to report a burglary — was transported to an area hospital where he remained in critical condition, police added. It is unclear what caused his injuries.

Officers also located Walker suffering from a gunshot wound; he later died at a local hospital, police said.

He added that both priests were found in a living area attached to the church.

"We don't have information on suspect or suspects, we don't have motive," Martos told NBC News. "Obviously our second victim is in critical condition... We hope he'll pull through and be able to provide further information."

One of the victims' vehicles was initially reported missing but later discovered a few blocks away from the crime scene, according to Martos.

Walker was ordained as a priest in May 2012 in Lincoln, Nebraska, said Fr. Michael Stinson of The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter.

He remembered him as a "young, outgoing priest," and said the community has been "in shock."


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