On Monday, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office stated that they had arrested a suspect in connection with the shooting killing of a Catholic bishop known for his work as a community peacemaker.
The body of Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell was discovered in his Hacienda Heights, California, residence on Saturday, the sheriff’s department reported. Hacienda Heights is located about 20 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.
Deputy Lizette Falcon said that deputies located O’Connell after responding to an emergency call just after 1 p.m. on Saturday.
Monday morning, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna announced they had apprehended 65-year-old Carlos Medina at his house in Torrance following a confrontation with deputies that lasted several hours. Luna revealed that Medina, the bishop’s husband and the spouse of the housekeeper, had helped out around the residence.
According to Luna, detectives began investigating Medina after a tip that he had been acting strangely and making statements about the bishop owing him money. Luna added that investigators had discovered footage of a vehicle matching the description of one driven by Medina pulling into the bishop’s driveway and then leaving again shortly after.
Luna emphasised that he is unsure of any dispute, and that detectives do not yet know the motive for O’Connell’s killing.
When asked about the allegations against Medina, Luna said, “We’re still putting it together.”
Luna stated that investigators had spoken with Medina’s wife, who is cooperating fully.
Two firearms and “additional evidence likely linking Medina to the crime” were discovered at Medina’s home in Torrance, about 35 miles southwest of Hacienda Heights, the sheriff said. He added that the firearms have not yet been investigated to see if they were used in the bishop’s murder.
The bishop was running late for a meeting on Saturday, so Luna said a deacon rushed to O’Connell’s house to ensure he was okay. According to Luna, the deacon dialled 911 and reported that O’Connell had stopped breathing.
Authorities did not find any signs of a break-in at the bishop’s house, Luna added.
Bishop Robert Barron tweeted a post saying,” I received last night the devastating news that my dear friend, Bishop David O’Connell, has died. Bishop Dave and I were ordained auxiliary bishops for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles seven years ago.”
I received last night the devastating news that my dear friend, Bishop David O’Connell, has died. Bishop Dave and I were ordained auxiliary bishops for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles seven years ago. pic.twitter.com/GWrgLY1hPX
— Bishop Robert Barron (@BishopBarron) February 19, 2023
Politicians And Community Leaders Alike Are Mourning O’Connell’s Death
catholics and political figures in Los Angeles spoke highly of O’Connell and were shocked by his death.
Archbishop of Los Angeles José H. Gomez released a statement on Saturday confirming O’Connell’s death, and he stated, “It is a shock and I have no words to express my sadness.”
Bishop David, who served as a priest and then a bishop in Los Angeles for 45 years, was “a man of intense prayer” and “had a great affection for Our Our Mother,” according to Gomez. “He had a desire to construct a community where the purity and dignity of every human life was cherished and safeguarded, and he was a peacemaker with a compassion for the poor and the immigrant.
“He was also a good friend, and I will miss him greatly. I know we all will. Please join me in praying for Bishop Dave and for his family in Ireland,” Gomez said.
On Sunday, Gomez released another statement in which he was “very troubled and heartbroken” about the homicide investigation into his death.
According to Angelus, the archdiocese’s news outlet, O’Connell, 69, was born in County Cork, Ireland, and was ordained to serve in the Los Angeles Archdiocese in 1979.
O’Connell served as an associate pastor in areas of southern Los Angeles plagued by gang violence and poverty. Angelus claims that during the riots in Los Angeles in 1992, he helped to rebuild confidence between the community and the police.
Angelus stated that O’Connell made it his mission to assist immigrants, and that he led the interdiocesan Southern California immigration Task Committee, which coordinated the church’s reaction to the recent flow of migrants from Central America.
“For me, it really is a labor of love,” he said of the task force in 2019, “because this is, I think, what our schools and parishes are all about not just for unaccompanied minors but for all our children. There’s an epidemic of hurting children, even the ones who have too much. They feel we’ve abandoned them. And the migrant youths have become a metaphor for our whole society.”
The chairman of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Janice Hahn, stated on Monday that the bishop had been a friend of hers for many years.
“He was known to walk among the people,” Hahn said. “He reached out to gang members; he reached out to the homeless; he reached out to the transients. He was the help of the helpless and the hope of the hopeless, and he knew that serving God meant serving man, especially the most vulnerable in our society.”
The Los Angeles Catholic community is reflecting on his legacy as police continue their investigation into the horrific shooting.
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“I’m brokenhearted. I’ve been crying for the last few days knowing that he’s no longer here to share all of his inspiration and his prayers and everything with us,” parishioner Ramona Torres said.
“I’m very hurt – very hurt by his passing because he’s one of the most lovable persons I’ve met,” another parishioner, Gabriela Gil, said.
“Bishop O’Connell was a guiding light for so many, and his legacy will continue to live on,” the sheriff’s department said on Twitter. “We are working diligently to seek those responsible for his death.”