The Los Angeles bishop shot dead in his bedroom this weekend was slain by the husband of his longtime housekeeper, an elderly man who had done odd jobs at the house where the beloved “peacemaker” priest was killed, police said on Monday.
Carlos Medina, 65, of Torrance, had been “acting strange, irrational, and making comments about the bishop owing him money,” before allegedly arriving at David O’Connell’s Hacienda Heights home and shooting him “at least once,” in the torso around 1 p.m. on Saturday, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said. “There had been some sort of working relationship,” between Medina and the 69-year-old auxiliary bishop for the Los Angeles Archdiocese, Luna said, but added that the suspect’s wife was the bishop’s housekeeper; it does not appear she was at the house at the time of the murder.
There was no sign of forced entry at O’Connell’s home and no weapons were found. His body was discovered when a concerned deacon went to the home after he failed to arrive at a scheduled meeting; he found O’Connell unresponsive in the bedroom and called 911. Paramedics pronounced O’Connell dead at the scene.
LASD homicide investigators interviewed witnesses and pulled nearby surveillance videos, one of which captured a dark-colored compact SUV pulled into O’Connell’s driveway before the murder, which, along with a tip of Medina’s rantings regarding the bishop, led investigators to the housekeeper’s husband.
At 2 a.m. Monday, the LASD was notified that Medina had returned to the Torrance home he shared with his wife, and he was taken into custody. Police recovered two weapons at the home, Luna said.
O’Connell immigrated from Ireland and was appointed by Pope Francis to serve L.A. 45 years ago. He was a kind-hearted man of the cloth who spoke fluent Spanish “with an Irish accent,” Archbishop Jose Gomez said Monday, choking up as he remembered his friend at the press conference announcing the arrest. “Every day he worked to show compassion for the poor. He was a good priest and a good bishop and a man of peace.”
Gomez sucked in a breath through tears and added, “We are very sad to have lost him.”
Luna told reporters that it remains unclear if Medina was owed money or if the elderly suspect’s “strange” behavior may have triggered the killing. Regardless of a possible motive, the city has now lost a religious leader known for his generosity, which extended well beyond the Catholic parishes that he led.
“He was the help of the helpless, the hope for the hopeless,” said Janice Hahn, the chair of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. “The Catholics of Los Angeles have lost an incredible leader, the county of Los Angeles has lost a partner in our work.”
State Senator Bob Archuleta said O’Connell was steadfast and fierce in his fight to bring peace to L.A. in tumultuous times. “He brought everyone together,” the senator said. “He was truly a man of the cloth. When the gang units were ready to fight the father was there, the Bishop was there.”
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