The shooting of two priests at a Phoenix church is the latest in more than 780 deadly attacks in US places of worship in the past 15 years.
Phoenix police responded to a call about a burglary at Mater Misericordiae (Mother of Mercy) Mission shortly after 9 p.m. local time on Wednesday and found two badly injured priests in the rectory, police say. The Rev. Kenneth Walker later died at the hospital and the Rev. Joseph Terra is in critical condition.Investigators have yet to determine if robbery was the motive for the assault, according to Phoenix Police Sgt. Steve Martos.
Robbery is one of the leading causes of deadly attacks in places of worship in the United States, according to statistics compiled by church security specialist Carl Chinn, who is based in Colorado Springs, Colo.
“Criminals tend to make these things up in their minds that the church is really rich,” Mr. Chinn says. “Maybe they have been to church one or two times and seen offerings taken up.”…
Fifty years ago, these kinds of incidents were almost nonexistent, Chinn says.
“We had never had a mass murder at a faith-based organization in the history of the United States until 1963, when four girls were killed in the bombing at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala.,” he says.