A Catholic Bishop was Murdered in Los Angeles County

A Catholic Bishop was Murdered in Los Angeles County

The killing of a longstanding priest considered a “peacemaker” has shocked the Los Angeles religious community, authorities say, a Catholic bishop was shot and killed on Saturday mere blocks from a church. According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the death of Bishop David O’Connell is being treated as a homicide investigation.

The authorities have not commented on whether the bishop was a targeted victim or whether his religion had a role in his murder. The shooter(s) have not yet been located. According to CBS Los Angeles, LASD Murder Branch Detective Michael Modica said, “It’s very early in the investigation,” 

According to the archdiocese’s news agency, O’Connell, 69, was an Irish native and had served as a priest for 45 years. In 2015, Pope Francis appointed him as one of the numerous auxiliary bishops for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the largest in the United States.

According to Angelus News, O’Connell spent several years working in South Los Angeles on the issue of gang intervention. Later, during the 1992 rebellion that followed the acquittal of four white LAPD officers in the beating of a Black man Rodney King, he attempted to mediate calm between people and law enforcement.

A Catholic Bishop was Murdered in Los Angeles County
A Catholic Bishop was Murdered in Los Angeles County

O’Connell led Catholic efforts in the area to assist Central American immigrant children and families. Nearly two decades later, he rallied the San Gabriel Valley community to restore a mission that had been destroyed by arson. O’Connell was discovered dead in Hacienda Heights at about 1 p.m. on Saturday. Only streets away from O’Connell’s archdiocese church of St. John Vianney, sheriff’s deputies responded to a medical emergency call in the area.

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According to the sheriff’s office, he was pronounced deceased by paramedics upon arrival. According to the archbishop, O’Connell resided in Hacienda Heights, an unincorporated neighborhood located about 20 miles (30 kilometres) east of downtown Los Angeles.

CBS Los Angeles reported that deputies stated O’Connell was shot in his house and that his death was mysterious. On Sunday, Masses were held in honour of O’Connell all around the region. Neighbors and parishioners in Hacienda Heights prayed the rosary and left flowers and candles next to the police tape.

On Sunday afternoon, a group of about 50 people held a vigil near the section of the neighborhood that was cordoned off as a crime scene and prayed and sang. Ramona Torres, a lector at her parish for over 30 years who frequently read at Masses that O’Connell was leading, stated, “I’ve been crying for two days, every time I think of him,”

Gabriela Gil and O’Connell initially met after attending a Catholic school Mass while Gil was pregnant with her youngest kid. She told the AP that when she and her family were paying their respects at the site, “I asked him if he would pray over my belly,” Gil, who raised seven children with her husband, often shared stories with O’Connell about her children and her faith.

She remarked, “I asked him if he would pray over my belly,”  adding that she had at first assumed he had passed away due to a heart attack or some other medical catastrophe. The killing of O’Connell came as a shock to her because he had presided over her son’s confirmation just the year before.

As per reports of Fox 29

“I saw him in the parking lot before the Mass started and he was just going out for a little walk, praying his rosary,”

She said.

The death of O’Connell shook the Diocese of Cork and Ross in Ireland, where he was born. O’Connell

“has always maintained his connection with family and friends in Cork” 

Bishop Fintan Gavin said in a statement.

The sheriff of Los Angeles County has expressed

“has always maintained his connection with family and friends in Cork”

sed his condolences, noting that his department is

“has always maintained his connection with family and friends in Cork”

Sheriff Robert Luna tweeted,

“He was a peacemaker and had a passion serving those in need while improving our community,” 

Saturday morning’s Mass featured a sermon by Archbishop José H. Gomez

“Our beloved Auxiliary Bishop David O’Conell has passed away unexpectedly. It’s a shock and I have no words to express my sadness,”

 KTLA-TV in Los Angeles said.

Archbishop Gomez and the Diocese of Los Angeles issued a statement after the funeral, saying that O’Connell

“was 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 honored and protected.”

According to CBS Los Angeles, Gomez continued,

“He was also a good friend, and I will miss him greatly,”

During the 2009 coronavirus outbreak, then-Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti claimed he prayed with Bishop O’Connell and considered him a “friend of many years”

“This city has lost one of its most beautiful angels,”

tweeted Garcetti on Sunday.

A Catholic Bishop was Murdered in Los Angeles County
A Catholic Bishop was Murdered in Los Angeles County

Los Angeles’ religious leaders were shaken once again by the violence. Last week, a shooter allegedly opened fire on two Jewish men, wounding both of them because of their religion. Federal hate crime charges have been brought against suspect Jaime Tran.