Sunday, 14 Apr 2024

Auxiliary Bishop Is Fatally Shot at His Los Angeles Home, Police Say

An auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles was fatally shot at his home on Saturday afternoon, the police said.

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies responding to an emergency medical call found the bishop, David O’Connell, at his home with a gunshot wound around 1 p.m., the department said.

He was pronounced dead at the scene, the authorities said. The circumstances leading to the shooting and the precise nature of the medical call were not immediately clear.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office said that it was investigating Bishop O’Connell’s death as a murder. Bishop O’Connell, 69, lived in Hacienda Heights, a suburban community in the San Gabriel Valley.

The Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office could not immediately be reached for comment on Sunday.

In a statement, José H. Gomez, the archbishop of Los Angeles, described Bishop O’Connell as a “peacemaker with a heart for the poor and the immigrant.”

Bishop O’Connell, who had served Los Angeles for 45 years, “had a passion for building a community where the sanctity and dignity of every human life was honored and protected,” Archbishop Gomez said.

Bishop O’Connell, who was born in County Cork, Ireland, on Aug. 16, 1953, was appointed an auxiliary bishop in 2015. He was one of five auxiliary bishops supporting Archbishop Gomez, according to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

The bishop studied for the priesthood at All Hallows College in Dublin and was ordained in 1979, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles said. He had previously served as a pastor at several parishes in Los Angeles, including St. Michael’s and St. Frances X. Cabrini.

Bishop Robert Barron, a former auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles who now serves in Minnesota, said he first met Bishop O’Connell in September 2015, when they were both appointed on the same day as bishops.

Bishop O’Connell cared deeply for victims of social and racial injustice and spent most of his priesthood in South Central Los Angeles, Bishop Barron said.

He had a gift for telling stories and also had a “delightful, playful sense of humor,” Bishop Barron said, adding that Bishop O’Connell had even once performed at a comedy club’s open mic night.

He was “the kind of person that when he walked in the room, everyone felt better,” Bishop Barron said. “He just lifted everybody up.”

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops said in a statement that “Bishop O’Connell was an active member of our Conference and a champion for the poor” who had previously led its anti-poverty initiative.

A month after becoming a bishop, Bishop O’Connell said in a July 2015 interview with The Angelus, the publication of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, that being a pastor in South Central Los Angeles had been “the great joy of my life.”

“It’s been a great privilege, a great blessing to be given these parishes all these years, to be pastor all these years,” he said. “The people have touched my heart the way they are sincere.”

Ruth Graham contributed reporting.

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