Phoenix Police Make Arrest in Killing of Catholic Priest Kenneth Walker
Mater Misericordiae Mission in Phoenix
Phoenix police have made an arrest in the killing of a Catholic priest last week.
Phoenix Police Sergeant Steve Martos says information on the suspect will be released later this morning.
Walker, 28, was shot and killed Wednesday night in the rectory of the Mother of Mercy Mission Church, near 16th Avenue and Monroe. Another pastor there, Joseph Terra, was severely beaten but was able to call police after the attack, reporting it as a burglary of the church.
He had been unable to give police more details immediately after the attack due to his injuries.
Police Chief Daniel Garcia said on Thursday that he couldn't say much about the investigation but said, "We do have some strong physical evidence we're going to be able to follow up on."
This post will be updated when police release the details on the arrest. Check back for more.
UPDATE 11:47 a.m.: Gary Moran, 54, is accused of carrying out the crime.
According to court documents obtained by New Times, Moran immediately attacked Terra with a metal rod when he broke into the church that night. Terra was able to get to his room and retrieve a gun, but told police he was unable to fire due to his injuries, including an injury to his trigger finger.
There was a struggle over the gun, and Moran was demanding money, and at some point Terra said he blacked out, and didn't even remember that he had called 9-1-1.
Police recovered DNA samples from several locations, including a window screen, the metal rod, and inside Walker's vehicle, which had been stolen from the church, but dumped a few blocks away. The samples matched Moran, according to the court documents.
Additionally, two witnesses came forward to police. One said he heard from a woman that Moran "was bragging about beating a priest and robbing him." Another came to police and said Moran gave her a bag to hold, which held a camera that belonged to one of the priests.
Police located Moran and interviewed him last night. According to the court documents:
When I asked if he knew why he was at the police station, Gary rplied because of the violence to the priests. Gary then told me he did not remember what happened. Later on in the interview, he said he was attacked. Gary said there was a struggle in the hallway with the gun with one of the priest[s], the other priest then came after him and he then shot that priest. Gary said he does not remember anything else and did not want to speak with me anymore.
Moran was booked into jail on charges of murder, burglary, misconduct involving weapons, theft, and armed robbery.
Court documents indicate Moran has no permanent address, and has no ties to Arizona. Court documents also identify him as an addict. He's being held on $1 million bond.
UPDATE 12:10 p.m.: Phoenix Police Officer James Holmes released the following info:
This suspect was recently released from the Department of Corrections on April 24, 2014. He served five years for a previous burglary in which he entered a home and stabbed a male homeowner who was present at the time.
Got a tip? Send it to: Matthew Hendley.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.