Anger toward religion provoked priest attacks in Arizona

Anger toward religion may have provoked deadly attacks on priests in Phoenix last week

The person who brutally attacked two Phoenix priests might have a lot of anger toward people and things associated with religion, a Phoenix Police Department spokesman said.

Police also said they are looking for a man who was seen entering a residence attached to Mother of Mercy Mission Catholic Church, where one Phoenix priest was shot and killed and another badly beaten Wednesday night.

The violent nature of the crimes – the Rev. Kenneth Walker was shot multiple times and the Rev. Joseph Terra was brutally beaten – leads police to believe the attacker is angry at churches, priests or religion in general, said Sgt. Darren Burch of the department’s Silent Witness program.

Burch said there was a lot of anger and venom involved in the attacks in the rectory of the church on Wednesday.

“Somebody in our community knows about an individual in his 40s that has that type of anger, that type of violent nature, those tendencies and that’s the perfect tip that we need,” Burch said.

Terra remains hospitalized in critical condition.

Burch said the attacker might have previously outwardly exhibited anger toward religion or priests but might have become more withdrawn and not as visibly agitated since the attack.

A flyer issued by the Phoenix Police Department said police were looking for a white man, 40 to 49 years old, who was seen entering the residence at the church near 1500 W. Monroe St. about 9:11 p.m. Wednesday.

Police continue to urge anyone with information about the suspect or the crimes to call Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS (480-948-6377), or 480-TESTIGO (480-837-8446), or 800-343-TIPS (800-343-8477).

Silent Witness is offering up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and/or indictment of the suspect or suspects in this crime.

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Katia is a consecrated independent sacramental bishop. She directs the online Esoteric Mystery School and Interfaith Theological Seminary. Check it out at

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