KPHO, the local CBS affiliate, reports that
Gary Moran, a homeless man with an extensive criminal record, was arrested Sunday night and jailed on suspicion of shooting the Rev. Kenneth Walker multiple times at Mother of Mercy Mission Catholic Church in south Phoenix on Wednesday.
Moran was released from prison just two months ago, after serving nine years of a ten-year sentence on burglary and assault charges. He has now been returned to jail, booked in the Maricopa County Jail on one count of first-degree murder during a crime, first-degree murder, first-degree burglary, armed robbery with a deadly weapon, vehicle theft, misconduct involving weapons and other charges. A cash-only bond of $1 million has been set.
According to KPHO:
Moran was sent to the Arizona Department of Corrections prison in Tucson on Feb. 8, 2005, on burglary and assault charges, and was released on supervised parole April 25.
He also has a 1989 conviction for felony burglary, and pleaded guilty to a weapons charge in 2000.
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On Friday, I reported that Father Walker, a young priest from the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (Fraternitas Sacerdotalis Sancti Petri), had been murdered in his Phoenix rectory, near the Arizona Capitol Building. Fr. Joseph Terra FSSP, who had been with him at the time, was also shot; but he was able to call 911 and to administer the Last Rites to his fallen associate.
A Mazda SUV belonging to the church was apparently stolen, and was found abandoned a few blocks away from the shooting.
At the time of this writing, Father Terra has been moved out of intensive care and is expected to make a full recovery.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.
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A reader reports that according to a press conference just ended in Phoenix, Father Terra was not shot–he was beaten. Earlier reports from AZCentral which say that Fr. Terra was also shot were apparently inaccurate.
Prayers and public viewing were held for Father Walker from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Sunday, June 15 at Holy Cross Mortuary in Avondale.
The Solemn High Requiem Mass for Father Walker was offered at 10 a.m. Monday, June 16, at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Phoenix. Members of the public were invited to attend the Mass and a reception following in the parish hall.
At St. Catherine of Siena parish, Catholics gathered for the Saturday Vigil Mass, the first liturgy since the killing of their two priests. KPKHO reported that the priest delivered a powerful message about this crime at Saturday’s Mass, a message that hit close to home for members of the Catholic diocese.
“We’re hurting for (our priests) because we know that this was close to them,” one parishioner is quoted as saying. He added that they’re praying for Father Walker, for Father Terra, for the person responsible for this crime and for justice.
St. Catherine of Siena parish has established a fund to help pay for Father Walker’s funeral expenses. As of this writing, the on-line fund has received more than $42,000 in donations.
And now, ABC15 Arizona has tweeted this photo of Fr. Joseph Terra, still wheelchair bound, but able to be present for Fr. Walker’s funeral liturgy.