Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department authorities named 65-year-old Carlos Medina of Torrance, California, as the person of interest arrested in the fatal shooting of Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell over the weekend.
O’Connell, 69, of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, was shot dead in his home in the suburb of Hacienda Heights on Saturday just before 1 pm Saturday.
“This bishop made a huge difference in our community,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert G. Luna said during a Monday night press conference. “He was loved, and it’s very sad that we’re gathered here today to talk about his murder in this way.”
Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert G. Luna said detectives investigating the death of Medina received a tip from a concerned individual who described the person of interest as “acting strange, irrational, and made comments about the bishop owing him money.”
Medina is the husband of O’Connell’s housekeeper and had previously worked at the bishop’s residence.
Law enforcement found O’Connell dead in his bed on Saturday from a single gunshot wound after a deacon from the church dialed 911 upon checking on the bishop because he was late for a meeting, Luna said.
Authorities did not recover a firearm at the scene or detect any signs of forced entry at the bishop’s home. However, after canvassing the neighborhood for surveillance footage, detectives discovered recordings Sunday that showed a dark-colored compact SUV that had pulled into the bishop’s driveway, stayed for a short time, and left the location.
The sheriff said authorities received a tip Medina had left Los Angeles County and was believed to be in the Central California area until later returning to his home at approximately 2:00 am on Monday.
Authorities surrounded Medina’s residence and called for the suspect to surrender.
At approximately 8:00 am, Medina exited his residence and surrendered — he was taken into custody without further incident.
“Although our priority before 8 am this morning was to apprehend the suspect — and we did by some amazing detective work,” Luna said. “Our next priority is to get him prosecuted.”
Luna said a motive for O’Connell’s murder had not been determined.
O’Connell was named Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles by Pope Francis in 2015. He served as chairman of the interdiocesan Southern California Immigration Task Force, which helped respond to an influx of immigration from Central America in recent years. He was chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.
While serving as an associate pastor, O’Connell focused part of his ministry on helping communities with gang violence and poverty in southern Los Angeles.
“My heart grieves,” Luna said. “Although I personally did not know the bishop, I cannot tell you how many phone calls I’ve received over the last 48 hours from people who have worked with him in different capacities,” adding the bishop was a pillar in the Los Angeles community known for his peacemaking and passion for serving those in need.
Archbishop of Los Angeles José H. Gomez said that O’Connell was “a good friend to Los Angeles” during the press conference.
“Out of His love for God, he served the city for more than 40 years as an immigrant from Ireland,” Gomez said. “Among the many things I admired in his life and ministry, he was fluent in Spanish with an Irish accent.”
“Every day, he worked to show compassion to the poor, to the homeless, to the immigrant. And to all those living on society’s margins,” Gomez added. “He was a good priest, a good patient, and a man of peace, and we’re very sad to lose him.”
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