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A suspect in the killing of Bishop David O'Connell is held on $2M bail

Updated February 21, 2023 at 5:37 PM ET

Police arrested a suspect in the killing of a Catholic bishop, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department announced Monday. He is currently being held on $2 million bail, according to the sheriff's department's inmate records.

Los Angeles Archdiocese Auxiliary Bishop David O'Connell, 69, was found dead with a gunshot wound Saturday at his home in Hacienda Heights, Calif. A deacon who had gone to check on him discovered the body, according to NPR member station LAist.

The suspect, Carlos Medina, had done some work around O'Connell's home and is married to O'Connell's housekeeper, Sheriff Robert Luna said at a news conference. Medina is 61; Luna originally misstated the suspect's age as 65.

Authorities are investigating allegations that the suspect made comments about O'Connell owing him money, Luna said.

Police arrested the suspect at his home around 8:15 a.m. local time Monday after he had barricaded himself inside for several hours. The sheriff said authorities recovered "firearms and other evidence possibly linking Medina to the crime." The suspect's wife is cooperating with the investigation.

O'Connell was ordained in Los Angeles in 1979, the diocesan news site Angelus News reported. Pope Francis named him an auxiliary bishop in 2015.

"Among the many things that I admired in his life and ministry was that he was fluent in Spanish — with an Irish accent," Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez said of O'Connell — who was born in County Cork, Ireland — at Monday's news conference.

"Everyday he worked to show compassion to the poor, to the homeless, to the immigrant, and to all those even on society's margins."

"We are very sad to lose him," Gomez added, holding back tears.

Many of O'Connell's congregants across parishes in the Los Angeles area were from marginalized and immigrant communities, according to Angelus News. Over the course of four decades as a priest and bishop, he worked to curb violence and to care for immigrants.

"I've been part of the people's lives, and been there during the suffering of the 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 do believe what's really important is for us to be out in the neighborhoods, to be out with the people."

He said it had "been the great joy of my life to be the pastor of these people, especially the ones who are suffering or in need or facing difficulty."

Government and church officials have expressed their condolences and shared memories.

State Sen. Bob Archuleta said at the news conference O'Connell "had the ability to walk the streets everywhere he went," bringing together people from all walks of life — from gang members to clergy members.

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 "has always maintained his connection with family and friends in Cork" through regular visits to Ireland.

His death "sent shockwaves" across the diocese, the bishop said.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Kaitlyn Radde

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