BREAKING: Arrest made in the murder of Fr. Walker – UPDATED

There is forensic evidence that connects the suspect to inside the rectory and inside the Fr. Walker’s vehicle which he stole.

There is a Requiem this morning.  Around that same time there is supposed to be a presser.

More from AZCentral.

Phoenix police confirmed the arrest of a suspect in the murder of Father Kenneth Walker, a Phoenix police spokesman said Monday morning via social media.

A Phoenix police spokesman confirmed that investigators arrested a 54-year-old man with a history of aggravated assault and misconduct involving weapons on suspicion of killing the 28-year-old priest found dead in a rectory near downtown Phoenix last week.

The spokesman confirmed the arrest of Gary Michael Moran hours before Valley residents honored Walker with a requiem Mass.

Moran was released from prison in April after having served the majority of a 10-year sentence for burglary and aggravated assault, according to court records.

Walker was murdered late Wednesday night in the rectory of a Catholic parish west of downtown Phoenix.

Phoenix police collected physical evidence from the Catholic church Walker was killed and another critically injured Wednesday night, but investigators spent the weekend developing more information about the crimes.

UPDATE:

News conference video HERE

The man who was arrested is a seriously bad citizen.

UPDATE:

Fr. Terra at the Requiem of Fr. Walker.  I’ll bet that took some effort.

Renew your prayers for both these men.

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30 Responses to BREAKING: Arrest made in the murder of Fr. Walker – UPDATED

  1. Kathleen10 says:

    I hope one good thing that results from this is that priests and religious consider their own security and take measures to keep themselves and staff safe. Unfortunately, as economic pressures increase, drug use and violence increase, we will see more acts of desperation to get money, and churches are seen as one potential jackpot, even when they aren’t. Added to that, perpetrators know they have a likelihood of finding a sympathetic person there, all the easier. A gentle victim is an easy victim, especially for someone who has done ten hard years. He’s a pro.
    In our area, casinos have gone up. On roads that were cowpaths only a relatively few short years ago, now hundreds of thousands of vehicles pass each day. With this sketchy “boom” for the town, came all the problems associated, crime, robberies, break-ins, prostitution, etc., unheard of in our area before the casinos were built. Where money is, there is crime, and the criminals get uglier and more depraved and violent every week. Everyone has to be careful today, lest someone think you have something and they know how to find you. But a priest, is particularly vulnerable. Gone is the day to count on the criminal’s respect for God, for the church, for the priest. It’s a hard core godless world to too many criminals today.
    Priests need to use alot of discretion. Consider carefully who you let in and who else is around. Here in this case were two strong men, yet one was killed and one terribly wounded. Some will say you can’t limit access to the people, but if not, look what has happened, not only has one wonderful priest been lost, but how many people would have been spiritually impacted had Fr. Walker lived? We’ll never know. I do not believe in being a peaceful victim. Take the measures. It doesn’t mean you have to live behind a barricade, but there has to be precautions or this will happen again and again. Do not let people just walk in the rectory. Lock the doors after Mass if possible, especially if no one else is there. Invest in good locks. Get security cameras and make them obvious. Don’t let people in after hours unless you know them. Have two or more people there. If you are in a really dicey area, consider using grills and seating areas just for that purpose, with locks that will keep perpetrators out, especially when you don’t know them. We protect desk clerks with such, why not priests and religious. It is a terrible sign of the times, but if this is the reality then we are fools not to take such measures. Every priest and religious is precious! If these measures had been in place, Fr. Walker might be alive today. This is such a terrible waste. Let’s at least learn something from it going forward.
    God rest Fr. Walker’s beautiful soul and may He heal Fr. Terra, also comfort all the brokenhearted.

  2. Gregg the Obscure says:

    May Mr. Moran soon repent of this heinous sin and seek the intercession of the Mother of Mercy and may all others who wound the Holy Church through their attachments to sundry evils – mentioned in sad recent posts here about Iraqi terrorists and domestic sybarites – similarly come to repentance.

  3. APX says:

    This is to much relief.

    It appears that he was on parole at the time and FTR for his last appointment. Prayers for his parole officer who will now have to deal with the paperwork, file auditing, and stress that goes along with Mondays when one of your “clients” does something super stupid like murdering someone.

  4. Bea says:

    Saw his picture on the link.
    What a lost soul he portrays.
    Released from prison to perpetrate such an heinous act.
    Only a miracle from God can touch him.

  5. HyacinthClare says:

    Just came back to this good news from Fr. Walker’s solemn high requiem mass, at St. Catherine’s, with a packed house; priests, habited nuns of at least five orders, dozens of deacons, and then all the rest of us. We DO send ‘em off in style, don’t we?? And FR. TERRA was THERE. He looked three shades of awful … black and blue, in a wheelchair, all hunched over… but he came to the requiem from the hospital, and I’d rather have seen that face than anybody else’s in the whole world. Prayers answered all over. Thank you EVERYONE. Thank you, Fr. Walker!!

  6. Just so we don’t have to play defense and react after someone else brings it up, is it just me who noticed that Fr. Walker may not have been killed had Fr. Terra not owned a gun? There’s no mention in the linked story that the perpetrator was armed with anything more than a tire iron.

  7. This is about to go down the rabbit hole of endless and pointless debate about gun ownership, despite the fact that the perp used a tire iron as a weapon (which can be used with great effect to kill a person). That is not what is important in this particular thread. I will not let this be derailed.

    I switched on comment moderation.

  8. kimberley jean says:

    54 year old homeless ex-con. I’ll sound mean but the homeless, whether due to insanity or drugs or can be very dangerous. When a person is so messed up that their own families don’t want any part of them or just can’t handle them there is a reason. My parish has a huge homeless ministry. Some of our clients are merely pitiful, others are so feral that I would never in a million years turn my back on them or be alone with them.

  9. Traductora says:

    I’m glad they caught this man. What is disgraceful and particularly horrible, of course, was that he was on parole at the time. Why give people with that type of violent history a chance to go out and do it all over again and destroy the lives of innocent people? Just in the last two weeks, there have been several truly horrible cases of parolees killing or severely injuring people within a couple of weeks or even a few days of their release from jail.

    I certainly hope this man recognizes what he has done and repents someday . And that’s another thing: our system is so busy protecting these dangerous people and practically making them seem like persecuted victims because they’re in jail that they never probably even acknowledge the enormity of their crimes. Also, the psychological establishment prevents them from hearing the moral teaching that might make them acknowledge that they’ve done something wrong and awful, and repent and ask for forgiveness and transformation.

  10. benedetta says:

    I think these priests displayed, were displaying heroic holiness in the context in which the Lord had called them. In most cities and even in quite crime free areas, the vast majority of priests and religious do not come to the door after a certain hour, and are protected by multiple levels of buzzers, cameras, double entrances, intercom, etc., and even with all of that do not just let anyone come around in even during business hours. These priests in their extreme suffering in this situation are showing the whole world that there are priests and religious, and sisters too, who take very seriously their vows and commitment to serve and love the very poorest among us, even at the greatest costs to themselves.

    [In charity toward the faithful, priests – in short supply – have to see to their own safety. Priests are not easily replaced at the drop of a hat. Thus, when one goes down, everyone suffers.]

  11. aviva meriam says:

    Regardless of the Supply of Priests, Each one is a person, created by God …. and we (the laity) owe them AT LEAST the respect due to any other human being, let alone as one called by God to HIS service.
    Priests deserve our support (moral, physical, verbal and financial) in order to protect themselves.
    Please, lets all find a way to contribute (in a tangible way) to the safety of Priests, Deacons, etc.
    Furthermore, there are many who are without families, through no fault of their own (think of the generations subjected to the foster care system”…. I’ve personally witnessed more young adult children abandoned by their “parents” due to no fault of their own. Sometimes its a product of dysfunctional parents and abuse suffered by the siblings that prevents the rest of the family from banding together. Our culture is unraveling, and it is largely through the destruction of the family (Daniel Patrick Moynahan was right in the 1960’s)
    There are evil people out there.
    Seriously impressed by Fr. Terra and the effort required for him to attend the Requiem. Hope he continues to heal quickly.

  12. APX says:

    Traductora,

    Keeping offenders in jail is ridiculously expensive, and many jails are already at over-capacity (at least in Canada), which isn’t safe. Because of this, offenders are either being released early, or not put in jail by either being put on house arrest or probation and re-offend. You’d think that re-offending would motivate the judges to give them jail sentences, but usually not. Even if their probation/parole officer strongly urges the judge that in the best interest of public safety the offender receive a jail sentence, they still won’t usually. It’s very frustrating for those who work in the system. There are many offenders who really do have a chance of rehabilitation, but don’t get the attention they need because their probation/parole officer is swamped with paperwork from the two out of 60 clients who can’t behave themselves over the weekend. The maximum a person can remain in jail in Canada is 25 years, and rarely anyone does stay in that long.

    Arizona has the 3-strike law for recidivists of serious crimes as well as the death penalty. If Mr. Moran is found guilty, I don’t think he’ll be getting put on parole again in his life time.

    Nevertheless, we should all pray and do penance for his conversion. I certainly wouldn’t want to go to my judgement with the blood of a priest on my hands, let alone having assaulted another one.

  13. MichaelTMS says:

    With more and more parishes going to clusters there just aren’t enough priests to go around. There are very few young priests or even middle aged priests. They must protect themselves to administer the sacraments to the faithful, because no one else can.

  14. acardnal says:

    Clergy, religious and their homes are “soft targets.” The career criminal (suspect) surely realized that.

  15. AnAmericanMother says:

    There are no guarantees in any defensive strategy.
    A single blow from a tire iron or pipe has killed many a strong man stone dead. And many have walked away from an encounter with multiple gunshot wounds.
    Too much depends upon the assailant, the victim, and the exact location of the blow or wound.
    There are no guarantees. You are only trying to increase the odds of surviving an encounter with an evil man who should never have been on the street.
    It should be obvious to anyone that ten to serve eight for a career convict with a drug problem and multiple agg assault priors – including stabbing a homeowner during a previous burglary – is not sufficient. THAT is your problem here.

  16. Militans says:

    I don’t get why they go through the charade of setting a bail surety amount. He has broken the terms of his parole and will be recalled to serve the remainder of his sentence, even without being found guilty of these offences?

  17. Gerard Plourde says:

    I’m praying for the full recovery of Fr. Terra, physical, mental and spiritual. The ordeal he has been through is scarcely imaginable. I’m sure Fr. Walker is interceding for him.

  18. Reliquary says:

    Here is a link to Fr. Flood’s and Bishop Olmsted’s remarks at the Requiem Mass today.

    http://www.azfamily.com/news/Photos-Requiem-Mass-for-the-Rev-Kenneth-Walker-263344131.html

  19. iudicame says:

    The bad man came to do evil. That the old priest made a brave attempt to protect himself and his fellow priest is laudable. That the old priest had a pistol or a cleaver or a baseball bat makes no difference. Bare hands can be as lethal as any other weapon and this has be proven innumerable times over history. m

  20. acardnal says:

    VIDEO: Homily given at Fr. Walker’s Requiem Mass today by USA District Superior, Fr. Berg, FSSP, and also a word by Bp. Olmsted.

    http://www.azfamily.com/news/Photos-Requiem-Mass-for-the-Rev-Kenneth-Walker-263344131.html

  21. acardnal says:

    Correction: Fr. Flood is the USA FSSP District Superior and he gave the homily. Fr. Berg is the FSSP Superior.

  22. The Masked Chicken says:

    I admit that I haven’t been following this story as intensely as some. It was enough to hear that a priest had been killed and one wounded for me (and many) to start praying, so that events, however they turned out, could unfold in the light of prayer. Oh, that everyone had someone to pray for them!

    It would be nice if there were a one-size-fits-all solution to the problem of violence in modern American society of which these two priests were victims, but, alas, none has been found, yet, short of isolating every person to their own, individual bubbles.

    I will have to wait a few days for the emotions within me to subside in order to see this situation with some clarity, but from the comments I have read, up above, not only are emotions raw, but responses, as well. The man who was arrested will have his day in court, with the presumption of innocence until proven guilty (and if the forensic evidence is strong, that may not be too hard to prove), so I am content on that front to wait for the civil authorities to proceed.

    What concerns me are the lessons that are being drawn from this. Already, I see in the comments, above, almost a bunker mentality or even worse a generalizing of distrust towards the homeless. Few of you, here, have ever been on the streets (and may you never be!), but I have, so I know, first hand, the issue from both sides. I know the desperation, the having doors closed in your face (by priests!), the shame, the fear of other homeless, and I wish I could offer some way to filter out the violent from the non-violent, the trustworthy from the conniver, among the homeless, but I cannot. I have been taken in as much as the next man and I have been mugged, as well. There simply is no way for the average priest to know if the person knocking at the door is going to break out in tears or break out a baseball bat.

    There are no quick solutions and no easy ones, as well, but Christ did not command us to visit those in prison as if visiting trash and he knew full-well that there would be murderers, there, but he did command us to visit them. He also commanded us to feed the homeless and cloth the naked, knowing that some might try to steal from us. I fear for the time when these jobs are relegated to robots, but I fear that time is coming. That might just make everyone happy (and how safe we will be), except Christ. I can see the time coming of drone charity. Is this what some are suggesting? Christian charity does not have to be stupid, but it does have to be human. Figuring out what that means in modern times is the test of a society.

    If this man is guilty, then it says something about the failure of the American penal system to prevent the insanely violent from going back on the streets, but it says even more about the breakdown of basic decency in society that has allowed at least some of these situations to devolve when there was no need.

    What I am afraid of is that this will be today’s news and nothing more. Will we find anything other than the immediate lessons in Fr. Walker’s death, such as a plea for better situational awareness and the like or stricter penalties for the recidivists? I fear not and that is a pity. I know of at least one case in history where a priest, later canonized, was violently murdered and the killer, amazingly, died in the odor of sanctity simply by virtue of the treatment he received by Christians (Google the Dominican saint, Peter of Verona). I wish that would happen, here.

    This death is such a small plea for light, but light is a wave and waves spread outward touching everything in its path. I pray that that plea might be answered by the inward growth in holiness of all of us, so that the darkness and ignorance of modern times might be illumined by a light that fears no death and is never to be extinguished.

    The Chicken

  23. wanda says:

    Prayers for both men. For the repose of Fr. Walker’s soul and that God give strength to his family at this un-imaginably difficult time. Praying for healing for Fr. Terra, emotional, spiritual and physical. It was meant for evil but God means it for good.

  24. nykash says:

    Priests are not easily replaced at the drop of a hat. Thus, when one goes down, everyone suffers.

    Without our priests, we are indeed lost sheep… protecting them may become important in the future.

    Requiescate in pace

  25. It’s about time the FSSP be shown greater respect and given adequate quarters in better parts of town. Besides, most people feel uneasy about driving their children into the hood to attend the EFM. In most apostolates, this is the case.

  26. Elizium23 says:

    The weapon owned by Rev. Terra is a Colt Python .357.

    Moran was not deemed to be mentally disturbed, but the news said that he had checked himself into an emergency psychiatric facility after the attack and before the arrest.

    Father Terra sustained injury to his right index finger, which made him unable to fire his gun (also unable to hold the Eucharist) but from the video taken after the Requiem Mass, it looked like at least one of his thumbs is OK and he might be able to hold stuff in each hand.

    Full police report available here [PDF].

  27. aemmel says:

    This whole situation makes me sad.

    However, lest we become judgmental, we should remember that, in god’s eyes any mortal sin is just as heinous. “For the wages of sin is death. But the grace of God, life everlasting, in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans VI:23 (DRV)

  28. JonPatrick says:

    There have been comments above about inadequacies in our legal and penal system, how people get released on parole only to commit more crimes. Yes our penal system leaves a lot to be desired and if you were trying to develop a system to turn people into hardened criminals you could hardly do better. But you don’t have to be a “bleeding heart” to recognize these (mostly) young men are created in the image and likeness of God and should not just be written off or locked up indefinitely so we can just forget about them. There is one thing that can be done – get involved in a prison ministry or start one. Many of these young men grew up in dysfunctional families and were never exposed to the Church or to Christ. Even if one person can see the Light and repents, it is worth it. I recently started helping out in a program run by my parish. It is at a local county jail which mostly handles short sentences but also people awaiting trial for more serious crimes which can sometimes go on for years. In general the inmates are very receptive to this, some of course see it as a diversion to everyday boredom but for others it seems to be an eye opener and they are also appreciative that someone actually went out of their way to try to help them.

  29. Supertradmum says:

    Why don’t the Knights of Columbus stop concentrating on fish dinners and become real knights, protecting the priests of America?

  30. Uxixu says:

    As a charitable organize the Knights of Columbus are great, as are the Knights of Malta… I do dream of a more martial Military Order in the old style, though it’s suitability for preventing instances like this would be obviously more limited as they would resemble a religious order more than anything most parishes would ever see.

    For every day parish life, restoring the Minor Order of Porters would be much more likely to simply leave Churches open instead of locking them at night, if not provide for a human factor able to 1) deter by their presence, 2) call in threats to law enforcement in conjunction with electronic and camera systems and the like, 3) perhaps be a last resort for armed resistance if absolutely necessary, and 4) harmonize with the ancient tradition of the ministry in the Church, 5) perhaps help provide for a more stable pool to inspire vocations from which instituted acolytes could be drawn.