The Main Stream

Jun 16, 2014 10:38 AM by KPNX

Phoenix Police arrest man in Mother of Mercy Mission homicide

(KPNX)- Phoenix police confirmed the arrest of a suspect in the murder of Father Kenneth Walker, a Phoenix police spokesman said Monday morning via social media.

Walker was murdered late Wednesday night in the rectory of a Catholic parish west of downtown Phoenix.

Phoenix police Sgt. Steve Martos confirmed the arrest of an unnamed suspect about 7 a.m. Monday and said the department would release more details later Monday morning.

The announcement came hours before Valley residents were scheduled to honor Walker's life with a requiem mass at a south Phoenix church.

Phoenix police collected physical evidence from the Catholic church Walker was killed and another critically injured Wednesday night, but investigators spent the weekend developing more information about the crimes.

Walker, 28, was shot and killed and Father Joseph Terra, 56, was wounded at a Catholic church Wednesday night near the state Capitol, a Phoenix police spokesman said.

Police were responding to a burglary call shortly after 9 p.m. near 16th Avenue and Monroe Street at the Mater Misericordiae (Mother of Mercy) Mission, Martos said.

Terra, the pastor, was identified as the priest who survived but remained in stable condition.

Police said Terra was "physically harmed" but not stabbed or shot.

Terra called 911, police said.

A car that police were seeking in connection with the attack was found at 17th Avenue and Taylor Street, about four blocks north of the church, Martos said. The car was unoccupied when it was found.

Walker was an ordained priest in the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter. He graduated from Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy, a Catholic school located in Ontario, Canada, where he studied from 2003 to 2005 before moving to Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Denton, Neb. Walker ordained in 2012 in Nebraska.

Terra comes from a family of nine children that grew up in the farming country around Lodi, Calif.

Before joining the priesthood, he worked in the honey business, hauling bees, said Father Jose Salgado, a priest who has known Terra for 23 years.

Salgado said Terra is built like a boxer and has a tough demeanor. "I wouldn't want to take him on," said Salgado, who celebrates the Latin Mass at St. Cecilia Church in Clarkdale.

Terra was instrumental in finding the vacant church building and making it the home of the Mother of Mercy Mission, said John Shannon, who now serves at a parish outside Topeka, Kan.

The mission was established by Bishop Thomas Olmsted in 2005 to provide Latin Mass to the faithful in Arizona.

The mission previously held services at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church. Its current location, west of downtown Phoenix, was dedicated in December 2010.

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