(LOS ANGELES) — Murder charges have been filed against a 61-year-old man in the fatal shooting of a long-serving Los Angeles Catholic priest known as a “peacemaker.”
The suspect, Carlos Medina, was charged with first-degree murder stemming from the slaying of Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell over the weekend, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon announced Wednesday.
Medina is the husband of O’Connell’s housekeeper, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna.
A motive in the homicide remains under investigation.
Detectives received a tip Sunday night that Medina was acting strangely and accused O’Connell of owing him money, Luna said at a news conference Monday. Detectives are investigating to determine whether there was a dispute between Medina and O’Connell, Luna said.
Sheriff’s deputies received a medical emergency call at 12:57 p.m. Sunday and responded to a home in Hacienda Heights, an unincorporated community of Los Angeles County. There, they found the 69-year-old O’Connell unresponsive and bleeding from a gunshot wound to the upper torso.
O’Connell was pronounced dead at the scene, officials said. It’s unclear how long he had been dead before sheriff’s deputies arrived at the home.
The killing of the beloved bishop sent shock waves through the Los Angeles Catholic community, prompting some parishioners 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.”
“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.
Born in Ireland, O’Connell 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. He was also the chairman of the Interdiocesan Southern California Immigration Task Force, helping coordinate the church’s response to immigrant children and families from Central America.
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