Sheriff’s officials said on Sunday that the shooting death of Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell, who was known as a “peacemaker,” is being looked into as a murder.
An official statement from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department read –
“This incident is being handled as a murder investigation.”
“There is no additional information available at this time.”
Authorities said that around 1 p.m. on Saturday, sheriff’s deputies found the body of O’Connell, 69, at a home in the 1500 block of Janlu Avenue in Hacienda Heights. O’Connell had been a priest and bishop in L.A. County for almost 50 years.
Officials from the sheriff’s office said that he had been shot, and paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene. Archbishop José H. Gómez of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles said in a statement Sunday –
“We are deeply disturbed and saddened by this news.”
“Let us continue to pray for Bishop Dave and his family. And let us pray for law enforcement officials as they continue their investigation into this terrible crime.”
In an earlier statement, Gómez 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 honoured and protected. He was also a good friend, and I will miss him greatly. I know we all will.”
The website for the archdiocese says that O’Connell became a bishop in 2015. Around 9 p.m. on Saturday, about a dozen people held candles and prayed the rosary near the corner of Janlu and Los Robles avenues. Glendy Perez said she knew O’Connell from anti-abortion rallies in the area and that he was a “soft-spoken and loving” man.
Jonny Flores, who lives in Rowland Heights and has met O’Connell at rallies, said that the bishop was always willing to help his parishioners, no matter how small their needs were.
Flores said –
“He didn’t hold back his words. He was well spoken.”
“He would take the time. He was very humble. He was never too busy.”
A statement from the archdiocese says that Pope Francis named O’Connell an auxiliary bishop for the archdiocese in 2015. O’Connell was born in 1953 in County Cork, Ireland. He went to All Hallows College in Dublin to study to become a priest. In 1979, he was ordained to serve in the archdiocese.
After he was ordained, he worked as an assistant pastor in several parishes and as the pastor of St. Frances X. Cabrini, Ascension, St. Eugene, and St. Michael’s parishes, all in Los Angeles.
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He was the head of the interdiocesan Southern California Immigration Task Force, which helped coordinate the church’s response to immigrant children and families from Central America in recent years.
He also played a key role in getting several young immigrants into Catholic schools, and some of them have gone on to college.
In 2002, the Times said that O’Connell was pastor at St. Frances X. Cabrini in South Los Angeles for 14 years. He then became pastor at nearby Ascension.
This meant taking care of not only two churches with about 4,000 families each, but also two schools with about 500 students from kindergarten to eighth grade.
According to the Catholic News Agency, O’Connell became known as a mediator after the riots in 1992, which happened after the police officers who beat Rodney King badly were found not guilty.
The future bishop was a big part of trying to rebuild trust between officers and communities in South L.A. He said at the time –
“Right away, we said that our churches were open for people, if they had taken stuff, to bring it back.”
“People brought things back, and we tried to give them to the stores which they had come from.”
At the moment, this is all we knew about the death of Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell, which is being treated as a homicide investigation. You can express your thoughts about the incident in the comments section.