(LOS ANGELES) — A person of interest has been detained for questioning in the fatal shooting in Los Angeles of a long-serving Catholic bishop known as a “peacemaker,” officials said Monday.
Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell, who had been a priest and then a bishop during his 45 years with the church, was found dead in a home Sunday in the unincorporated neighborhood of Hacienda Heights after sheriff’s deputies responded to an emergency medical call, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office.
A news conference is expected to be held later Monday on the investigation.
The killing of the beloved bishop has sent shock waves through the Los Angeles Catholic community, prompting some parishioner to go to the scene of the O’Connell’s death to pray.
José H. Gomez, the archbishop of Los Angeles, said O’Connell was known as a “man of deep prayer.”
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s investigators said they received a medical emergency call at 12:57 p.m. Sunday and deputies responded to a home in the unincorporated neighborhood of Hacienda Heights. There, they found the 69-year-old O’Connell unresponsive and bleeding from a gunshot wound to the upper torso. He was pronounced dead at the scene, officials said.
It’s unclear how long O’Connell had been dead before sheriff’s deputies arrived at the home.
Detectives were piecing together the circumstances of the homicide on Sunday and working to determine the identity of the O’Connell’s killer.
“He 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,” Gomez said.
Upon hearing of O’Connell’s death, parishioners went to the crime scene and said prayers in front of the home.
“It broke me and I was scared to tell my wife because my wife loved him so much,” parishioner Johnny Flores told ABC Los Angeles station KABC.
Another parishioner, Glendy Perez, described O’Connell as “a humble soul.”
“He was not the type that would have confrontations with nobody,” Perez told KABC. “He was very loving, and he had like a gift of healing. When you would attend his ceremonies, it was like a gift of healing.”
O’Connell, who was born in Ireland, was named an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles by Pope Francis in 2015.
O’Connell studied for the priesthood at All Hallows College in Dublin and was ordained in 1979 to serve in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. After ordination, he served as associate pastor and pastor at several parishes in Los Angeles.
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