Police at the scene of an attack on an Arizona church

Police investigate an attack on an Arizona church that left a priest dead and another injured (NDN / June 16, 2014)

Phoenix police have arrested a man convicted of a violent burglary in the murder of a 29-year-old priest who was killed and his pastor badly injured during a break-in at a Catholic church last week, authorities said on Monday.

Police identified the suspect as 54-year-old Gary Michael Moran and said forensic evidence linked him to the scene. He faces charges including first-degree murder, attempted murder, armed robbery, and theft.

Moran was freed from prison in late April, authorities said.

"He served five years for a previous burglary in which he entered a home and stabbed a male homeowner who was present," the Phoenix Police Department said in a statement.

"Forensic evidence worked in concert with individuals who came forward with information resulting in the ultimate arrest of this violent individual."

The statement said Moran was arrested on Sunday night, but gave no other details of his detention. A police mug shot showed a man with long, unkempt dark hair.

The attack, which took place in the living quarters of the Mater Misericordiae (Mother of Mercy) Mission church last Wednesday, was initially described as a burglary.

But police have since said it is too early to say what the motive was for the assault on the priests.

The slain man was the Reverend Kenneth Walker, an assistant pastor. The injured priest was the Reverend Joseph Terra. Church officials said Terra performed the last rites on his dying colleague, despite being critically injured himself.

Detectives had canvassed the streets around the church since the attack, studying closed-circuit television footage from local businesses, and encouraging any members of the public with information to get in touch.

Both priests belonged to a religious order called the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter. Church officials said over the weekend that Terra was expected to make a full recovery.