A Catholic bishop was shot and killed in his Los Angeles home over the weekend, in an incident police are calling ‘suspicious.’
Authorities said they responded to David O’Connell’s four-bedroom, three-bathroom $1.07million home in the Hacienda Heights neighborhood at around 1pm Saturday afternoon, where he was found with a gunshot wound to his upper torso, and was pronounced dead at the scene. He was 69.
Deputies had received a call reporting that a person was not breathing at the address, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reports. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is now investigating his death as ‘suspicious.’
It remains unclear whether a firearm was found at the scene, and authorities have not yet ruled O’Connell’s death a homicide.
The auxiliary bishop’s death was first announced by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, which called O’Connell a ‘peacemaker’ and a man of ‘deep prayer’ who cared for everyone during his 45 years with the Church.
O’Connell’s death was first announced by Jose H Gomez, an archbishop with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, who called his colleague ‘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 in a statement.
‘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.’
Following the announcement, parishioners gathered outside O’Connell’s home, where some were seen crossing themselves as the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department continued its investigation.
The mourners clutched their rosaries and candles while alternating between singing Ave Maria and reciting the Lord’s Prayer, according to the Valley Tribune.
Many were in shock of the news.
‘I was devastated to hear this,’ said Donna Marie, a local resident. ‘Everybody is kind of shocked right now because this kind of thing doesn’t happen around here.’
Jose Alvarez agreed, saying: ‘When I first heard the news, I thought he had a heart attack. I’m shocked it was through a gunshot.’
He said the auxiliary bishop was a man of the people. ‘The bishops are usually inaccessible,’ Alvarez explained. ‘A lot of times, they’re kind of hidden in an office, but he was but in parish doing a healing mass.’
Johnny Flores also told ABC 7: It broke me and I was scared to tell my wife, because my wife loved him so much.’
Deputies would not comment further on O’Connell’s death, citing a pending investigation. DailyMail.com also reached out to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles for further comment.
O’Connell was remembered on Sunday as a kind-hearted man with a thick Irish accent and a great sense of humor.
Glendy Perez said he was ‘a 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.’
Father Albert Avenido, of the Sacred Heart church, also arrived at the scene Saturday night to recite the Holy Rosary and comfort mourners.
He is now working with other Catholic leaders to organize a special memorial mass for O’Connell.
But in the meantime, Alvarez says he thinks people will continue to show up outside the bishop’s home.
‘He was a very powerful man,’ Alvarez explained. ‘You could see it in his personality — it’s not just because you see him kneeling down praying — you know that he’s a powerful man because you can see it in his life.’
Meanwhile, Janice Hahn, the chair of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, tweeted: ‘I was very sad to learn of the passing of Bishop O’Connell. He was a longtime friend.
‘I was fortunate to work with him during my time on the city council, and again as a supervisor,’ she continued. ‘I join with Archbishop Gomez and the people of Los Angeles in mourning his loss.’
And the US Conference of Catholic Bishops tweeted: ‘We join @ArchbishopGomez in grieving the sudden loss of one of our bishops.
‘Bishop O’Connell was an active member of our conference, and a champion of the poor and marginalized.’
O’Connell was born in Ireland in 1953 and was named an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles by Pope Francis in 2015.
He studied at All Hallows College in Dublin and was ordained to serve in the Archdiocese in 1979, first as an associate pastor in several parishes before becoming an archbishop.
O’Connell also served as the chairman of the Interdiocesan Southern California Immigration Task Force, helping to coordinate the Church’s response to immigrant families from Central America.
Last September, O’Connell was honored with the Evangelii Gaudium Award from St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo for his years of service to the community and the Church in the Los Angeles area.
And at a national level, O’Connell was the chairman of the Subcommittee on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.
He had recently volunteered to lead next week’s Ash Wednesday Mass at the Sacred Heart Catholic School.
‘You can imagine how busy the bishops are on Ash Wednesday, and he offered to celebrate the Mass in our school,’ said Father Avenido.
‘We were all so excited.’
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is now asking anyone with information about O’Connell’s death to call (800) 222-8477.