HACIENDA HEIGHTS, LOS ANGELES (KABC) — An auxiliary bishop with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles was shot to death Saturday afternoon in Hacienda Heights, authorities confirmed.
Bishop David O’Connell was shot and killed just before 1 p.m. inside a home in the 1500 block of Janlu Avenue, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Investigators said O’Connell, who was a priest and later a bishop in L.A. for 45 years, was found in a room with a gunshot wound to his upper torso.
The sheriff’s department said detectives are investigating this as a suspicious death though no further details were released.
Information regarding a suspect or suspects was also not immediately released.
Earlier on Saturday, Archbishop José H. Gomez released a statement on O’Connell’s death, saying he had “passed away unexpectedly.”
“It is a shock and I have no words to express my sadness,” read the statement.
“As a priest and later a bishop here in Los Angeles for forty-five years, Bishop Dave was a man of deep prayer who had a great love for Our Blessed Mother. 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.
He was also a good friend, and I will miss him greatly. I know we all will. Please join me in praying for Bishop Dave and for his family in Ireland. May Our Lady of Guadalupe wrap him in the mantle of her love, and may the angels lead him into paradise, and may he rest in peace.”
Devastated parishioners gathered by the crime scene Saturday as deputies investigated.
“It broke me and I was scared to tell my wife because my wife loved him so much,” said parishioner Johnny Flores.
Glendy Perez, another parishioner, said O’Connell “was an humble soul.”
“He was not the type that would have confrontations with nobody,” she said. “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 in 1953, was named an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles by Pope Francis in 2015.
He studied for the priesthood at All Hallows College in Dublin and was ordained to serve in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in 1979. After ordination, he served as associate pastor in several parishes and as pastor at several parishes in L.A.
He was the chairman of the Interdiocesan Southern California Immigration Task Force, helping coordinate the church’s response to immigrant children and families from Central America.
Meanwhile, anyone with information about the death is urged to call homicide detectives at 323-890-5500 or Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
This is a developing story. This article will continue to be updated as more information becomes available.
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