Priest shot dead, another wounded in Phoenix


by Scott Davis / CBS5

Posted on June 12, 2014 at 6:55 AM

Updated Thursday, Jun 12 at 9:38 PM

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PHOENIX (CBS5) - One priest was shot to death and another badly injured in their Catholic church in downtown Phoenix on Wednesday night.

Police said the priests were injured during what was initially reported as an attempted robbery at the Mother of Mercy Mission Catholic Church at 16th Avenue and Monroe.

The surviving priest called 911 shortly after 9 p.m. The 56-year-old was in extremely critical condition with unknown injuries, said Phoenix Police Sgt. Steve Martos.

Though he was able to call police, the surviving priest was unable to provide much information about the crime, Martos said.

"Hopefully, once that individual receives treatment and is able to pull through, we can gather more information," Martos said.

The priest who was shot was taken to a Phoenix hospital where he died, Martos said.

Martos said the crime occurred outside the church's sanctuary.

Parishioners outside the church prayed the Rosary with their hands clasped and heads bowed. One woman said the dead priest had recently baptized her baby.

Police found a 2003 green Mazda Tribute believed stolen from the church about three blocks away. They towed it to begin processing it for fingerprints and any other evidence.

No suspects were in custody, Martos said, but "it's just a matter of time that we can locate these individuals."

"It says a lot when talking about individuals who are coming into a location like this to a church facility and commit a crime like this against individuals like this," Martos said. "One can only imagine what they are likely to do."

Anyone with information about the suspects or incident are asked to call Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS (480-948-6377), or 480-TESTIGO (480-837-8446).