Police have arrested a suspect in the killing of a Catholic bishop, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department announced on Monday.
Los Angeles Archdiocese Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell, 69, was found dead of a gunshot wound Saturday at his home in Hacienda Heights, California. A deacon who had gone to check on him discovered the body, according to NPR member station LAist.
The suspect is Carlos Medina, 65, the husband of O’Connell’s housekeeper, Sheriff Robert Luna said at a news conference. Medina had also done some work around the O’Connell house.
Authorities are investigating allegations that the suspect made comments about O’Connell owing him money, Luna said.
Police arrested the suspect at his home at around 8:15am local time on Monday after he barricaded himself inside for several hours. The sheriff said authorities recovered “firearms and other evidence that could link Medina to the crime.” The suspect’s wife is cooperating with the investigation.
O’Connell was ordained a priest in Los Angeles in 1979, This was reported by the diocesan information site Angelus News. Pope Francis appointed him auxiliary bishop in 2015.
“Among the many things I admired about his life and ministry was that he was fluent in Spanish, with an Irish accent,” said Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez of O’Connell, born in County Cork, Ireland, at Monday’s press conference.
“Every day he worked to show compassion to the poor, the homeless, immigrants and all those who are also on the margins of society.”
“We are very sad to lose him,” Gomez added, holding back tears.
Many of O’Connell’s congregants in Los Angeles area parishes they came from marginalized and immigrant communities, according to Angelus News. Over the course of four decades as a priest and bishop, he has worked to curb violence and care for immigrants.
“I’ve been a part of people’s lives and I’ve been there through the suffering of young people who have lost their lives so many times, but I haven’t had any problems,” O’Connell told Angelus News in 2015. “I believe what it’s really important to us to be out in the neighborhoods, to be with people.”
he said it has been “the great joy of my life to be the pastor of these people, especially those who are suffering or in need or facing difficulties”.
Government and church officials have they expressed their condolences and shared memories.
State Senator Bob Archuleta said at the press conference O’Connell “had the ability to walk the streets wherever he went”, bringing together people from all walks of life, from gang members to clergymen.
Parishioners and priests gathered outside O’Connell’s home – the scene of his death – over the weekend to pray and mourn.
Bishop Fintan Gavin of the Diocese of Cork and Ross in Ireland said in a statement that O’Connell “always maintained his connections with family and friends in Cork” through regular visits to Ireland.
His death “sent a shock wave” throughout the diocese, the bishop said.