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Police Release Description of Suspect in Phoenix Priest Murder

Phoenix police searching for the gunman who killed one priest and injured another released a limited description Friday of the suspect: a white male in his 40s.

Police Sgt. Steve Martos told NBC News the sparse information was provided by the surviving priest, the Rev. Joseph Terra, who remains hospitalized in critical condition after Wednesday night’s shocking attack at the Mother of Mercy Mission.

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Police haven’t ruled out whether more than one suspect could be involved. Crime fighters are offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

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Terra, 56, first called police to the downtown church to report a robbery just after 9 p.m. local time. When they got there, officers found an injured Terra in the rectory, Martos said. They also discovered a second priest, the Rev. Kenneth Walker, suffering from a gunshot wound. The 28-year-old assistant pastor died at the hospital.

Police have not specified Terra’s wounds, but said they planned to interview him further.

Walker’s 2003 Mazda was initially reported missing, but was discovered about four blocks away from the church.

Deacon Jim Trant, of the Diocese of Phoenix, told The Associated Press that it’s possible the suspect knocked on the door and the priests — who felt safe in the neighborhood — simply let him in.

Parishioner Bill Haley visited Terra in the hospital on Thursday and said the priest was in critical condition but able to talk.

“He said nothing evil about the person who did this, expressed no ill will,” Haley recalled.

— Erik Ortiz

The Associated Press contributed to this report.