A 28-year-old priest who was just ordained two years ago was shot dead in a Catholic church in Phoenix, Arizona, while another was injured near the state Capitol Wednesday night, according to Phoenix police.
Sgt. Steve Martos explained in an azcentral report that police responded to a burglary call at the Mater Misericodiae (Mother of Mercy) Mission shortly after 9 p.m. Wednesday when they made the gruesome discovery.
In a statement Thursday morning, the Diocese of Phoenix identified the slain priest as Fr. Kenneth Walker and his injured brother as Fr. Joseph Terra.
"We are stunned and deeply saddened to learn of the tragic assault perpetrated last night against Fr. Joseph Terra and Fr. Kenneth Walker, two religious order priests who belong to the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter," said the statement.
"Fr. Walker's life was taken. Fr. Terra remains in critical condition but stable. The police are still gathering information and trying to sort through the details of this senseless act of violence. We ask that people offer prayers for both priests, the religious community, their families and the parish," it added.
Police told azcentral that 56-year-old Fr. Terra, who was the one who called 911, was "physically harmed" but not by stabbing or shooting.
A police spokesman noted that while the original call referenced a burglary, investigators are still trying to ascertain the true reason behind the fatal encounter.
Fr. Walker, according to Luigi Baratta, a member of the Knights of Columbus, has started a Knights of Columbus Chapter at Mother of Mercy and was working to help those in need in the area.
"It's a tragedy, he was such a young priest," said Baratta. "It's just a tragedy."
A car police sought in connection with the attack was discovered unoccupied four blocks from the church and police have no suspects in custody as yet.