Crime /

Suspect Arrested for Fatally Shooting Catholic Bishop in Los Angeles

Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell was shot to death in his home on Feb. 18

The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department arrested a suspect in connection to the fatal shooting of Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell.

O’Connell was found dead of a gunshot wound to the chest at his home in Hacienda Heights blocks away from St. John Vianney Catholic Church around 1 p.m. on Feb. 18. Authorities arrived at the scene after receiving a call about a medical emergency.

Hacienda Heights is an unincorporated community approximately 20 miles from downtown Los Angeles.

Police announced at a press conference on Feb. 20 that they had arrested the husband of O’Connell’s housekeeper for the bishop’s murder. Carlos Medina, 65, was taken into custody after a standoff with police that lasted several hours. Law enforcement recovered two guns from the suspect’s home which have been submitted for forensic testing.

According to the Sheriff’s office, Medina was observed on surveillance videos arriving in and departing from O’Connell’s driveway in a dark compact SUV. 

LA County Sheriff Robert Luna said at the press conference that neighbors reported hearing Medina speak disparagingly about O’Connell and claiming the bishop owed him money. Luna said Medina had done some type of work for O’Connell and that an investigation is ongoing. 

Investigators found no evidence of forced entry and that the bishop had been shot in his bedroom.

Medina’s wife has been “fully cooperative,” according to the sheriff. 

O’Connell, 69, was born in Cork, Ireland and had been a Catholic priest for the last 45 years. He was appointed by Pope Francis to serve as an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Los Angles in 2015. His death has been ruled a homicide.

Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles said the diocese was “deeply disturbed and saddened” by O’Connell’s death.

“Let us continue to pray for Bishop Dave and his family,” Gomez said in a statement on Feb. 19. “And let us pray for law enforcement officials as they continue their investigation into this terrible crime.”

Gomez described O’Connell as “a peacemaker with a heart for the poor and the immigrant, and he had a passion for building a community where the sanctity and dignity of every human life was honored and protected,” per the East Bay Times

According to Vatican News, “mourners held candles and prayed the Rosary near the site” of O’Connell’s death.

The violence was the latest to rock religious leaders in Los Angeles,” reports AP News. “Two Jewish men were shot and wounded last week by a gunman who authorities said had targeted them for their faith. Suspect Jaime Tran has been charged with federal hate crimes.”

Luna tweeted that his department was “committed to arresting those responsible for this horrible crime.”

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