PHOENIX - Police say the investigation into a deadly priest shooting at a Roman Catholic church in Phoenix has been stymied by a lack of usable surveillance video and a vague account of the attack by a second severely injured priest.
Still, investigators have been able to recover forensic evidence from the dead priest's car and the crime scene that they are hopeful will lead them to a suspect. And they are going door-to-door in the neighborhood looking for witnesses who might have seen something.
The investigation is playing out as parishioners are mourning the loss of the Rev. Kenneth Walker, 28, and praying for the recovery of the Rev. Joseph Terra, 56, who was so badly beaten that police were worried he wouldn't survive the night. He remained in critical but stable condition.
Based on an interview with Terra, police said they believe the suspect is a white male in his 40s but acknowledge it was a "limited description."
"Unfortunately because of the severity of his injuries, he was only able to provide limited information about one particular suspect," Phoenix police Sgt. Steve Martos said.
Detectives collected surveillance video from buildings in the area, including government facilities near the state Capitol, but they found nothing usable at this point because the cameras weren't pointed in the direction of the church.
Police are still unsure if there was only one suspect or whether robbery was the motive in the attack at the Mother of Mercy Mission, Martos said. He declined to say whether there was forced entry.
They have been able to rule out several theories, including speculation of a dispute between the priests.
"There's nothing to indicate that this is priest-on-priest or Father Terra getting into some argument or discussion with Father Walker," Martos said. "We don't believe that the evidence that we have come across points in that direction at all."
A source tells ABC15's Christopher Sign that Terra was beaten with a metal pipe after he opened the church door when a man knocked. The pipe was found at the scene.
More: Sources tell me crime lab working quickly to analyze the metal pipe & other evidence from scene where priests attacked @abc15— Christopher Sign (@ChristopherSign) June 13, 2014
Walker was born in upstate New York, had 10 siblings and was drawn to the priesthood after attending traditional Latin Mass with his family in high school. He joined the seminary after high school, earning a 3.8 grade-point average at one point while enjoying playing soccer, said the Rev. Joseph Lee, academic dean at the Our Lady of Guadalupe seminary in Nebraska.
He eventually joined a Catholic order that specializes in Latin Mass and became a priest in downtown Phoenix. He recently officiated a younger sibling's wedding in Kansas -- the last time he saw many relatives.
Family members said they were overcome with emotion by the loss, but they took solace in the fact that the surviving priest was able to administer last rites.
"For Catholics, receiving your last rites basically guarantees you're going to heaven," said his stepsister, Sasha Keys. "That's one of the biggest reasons we have to smile."
Terra was lucky to be alive and able to perform the rites given the severity of his injuries, authorities said. "That night, being out there on the scene, we believed there was certainly a good opportunity that Father Terra was going to pass away," Martos said.
In his application to the seminary, Walker spoke of his devotion to God and desire to be a priest.
"The only vocation that I could be satisfied with, as a work, would be one that would be de dedicated to bringing people to salvation in whatever way God wills for me to do so. This work is best carried out by the priesthood," he wrote.