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Anna Karamazina

26.11.2022 15:00

The suspect in the murder of a Catholic bishop had previously worked for him

Los Angeles' immigrant and religious communities have been shaken with the weekend murder of a Catholic bishop, and according to officials, the victim's housekeeper's husband, who was detained this week, had performed work at the victim's residence.

Auxiliary Bishop David O'Connell, 69, was shot and killed last Saturday in his bedroom at home in Hacienda Heights, a community that is not incorporated and is located approximately 20 miles (30 kilometers) east of downtown Los Angeles, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna.

In Torrance, roughly 35 miles (55 kilometers) southwest of Hacienda Heights, a SWAT squad detained Carlos Medina, the housekeeper for O'Connell.

As shown by security footage, Medina's Vehicle was parked in O'Connell's driveway at the time of the murder, so the sheriff said that investigators initially connected Medina to the crime.

According to Luna, a caller said Medina, 65, was behaving erratically and had mentioned that O'Connell owed him money, adding that the cause for the homicide is still being looked into.

Detectives visiting the residence owned by the archdiocese had not discovered any indication of a forced entry, and Medina's wife was helping them. Ballistic tests are expected after detectives found guns at Medina's residence, according to Luna.

Whether Medina has a lawyer who can speak for him, that was not immediately known.

O'Connell was discovered at his residence a few streets from the St. John Vianney Catholic Church, a facility under his archdiocese, by a deacon who had gone to check on him after he skipped a meeting. The deacon then phoned the police, according to Luna.

As Luna continued, "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,” Luna said. “This bishop made a huge difference in our community. He was loved. "

According to Angelus News, the news company of the biggest archdiocese in the country, O'Connell had been a priest for 45 years and was an Irish native. One of the archdiocese's auxiliary bishops was appointed to him by Pope Francis in 2015.

According to an article in Angelus News, O'Connell spent several years working in South Los Angeles and excelled in gang intervention. During the bloody uprising of 1992, when a jury found four white LA police officers not guilty of assaulting a Black man named Rodney King, he subsequently tried to mediate a settlement between the community and the police.

A mission in the San Gabriel Valley was destroyed in an arson assault, and over two decades later, O'Connell rallied the neighborhood to restore it. He has also been in the forefront of recent Catholic initiatives in the area to assist Central American immigrant families and children.

O'Connell, according to Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, spoke good Spanish with a strong Irish accent and displayed compassion for all those on the periphery of society every day. 

With his voice quivering, Gomez said, "He was a good priest and a good bishop and a man of peace and we’re very sad to lose him."

O'Connell was a longstanding acquaintance who Janice Hahn, head of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, first met while she served on the LA City Council, according to Hahn. O'Connell, according to her, has been spending a lot of time lately assisting newly arrived immigrants.

She added that he dedicated his life to assisting immigrants, helping them enroll in Catholic institutions and complete their college degrees in addition to ensuring that they had access to food and housing.

Beside the police tape in Hacienda Heights, neighbors and churchgoers recited the rosary and placed flowers and candles.

Others who prayed outside O'Connell's house included Gabriela Gil, who first met O'Connell when she was expecting her youngest child.

She said, "I've never ever felt more understood by anyone in the world."

The killing caused a stir in O'Connell's birthplace in the Diocese of Cork and Ross in Ireland. O'Connell has always maintained his link with family and friends in Cork, according to Bishop Fintan Gavin, who added in a statement that O'Connell has often returned to Ireland.

Religious leaders in Los Angeles were most recently shaken by the bloodshed. A shooter who officials claim was targeting the two Jewish men because of their religion shot and injured them last week. Jaime Tran is accused of federal hate crimes.

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