A suspect has been arrested and now publicly identified in the murder case of Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell, who was shot and killed in his home on February 18.
In a press conference February 20, Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD) Sheriff Robert Luna announced that charges would be brought against 65-year-old Carlos Medina, the husband of Bishop O’Connell’s housekeeper.
It is currently unclear if the housekeeper is employed by Bishop O’Connell directly or by the archdiocese, Luna said. He added that Medina has “previously done work at the bishop’s residence.”
CNA asked the archdiocese if Medina or his wife had been employed by the archdiocese but did not immediately receive a response prior to publication.
Luna said he had no information about a motive at the time of the press conference.
In detectives’ search for the killer, Luna said that Sunday evening they were tipped off about a person of interest in the city of Torrance, which is about a 45-minute drive southwest from Hacienda Heights, where Bishop O’Connell was found dead.
Detectives had identified the person of interest as Medina on Sunday evening after the tipster told them that Medina was exhibiting “strange” and “irrational” behavior and had “made comments about the bishop owing him money.”
Police had also discovered video evidence of a “dark-colored, compact SUV” that had pulled into the bishop’s driveway, stayed for a short time, and then left, the sheriff said.
Medina drove a similar type of vehicle, Luna said.
On Monday morning at about 2 a.m. local time, sheriff’s deputies arrived at Medina’s home after being tipped off that he arrived at his residence.
With a warrant in hand for his arrest, sheriff’s deputies called for Medina to surrender, but he refused to come out of his residence.
The sheriff department’s Special Enforcement Bureau personnel arrived at the scene with an amended warrant to search Medina’s home and arrest him. Medina exited his home and surrendered to authorities at about 8:15 a.m. local time, “without further incident,” Luna said.
Neither Medina nor his wife had worked at the bishop’s residence the day of the murder, Luna said. Medina’s wife is being interviewed by detectives and she has been fully cooperative, according to the sheriff.
When deputies and paramedics arrived at O’Connell’s residence at the 1500 block of Janlu Avenue, Hacienda Heights, on February 18, they discovered him with “at least” one gunshot wound to his upper body while in his bedroom, Luna said.
Luna said there was no evidence of a “forced entry” or “burglary” and added that no firearm was found at the scene.
Two firearms “and other evidence” possibly incriminating Medina were found at his residence in Torrance during his arrest at approximately 8:15 on Monday morning, the sheriff said.
Those firearms will be examined and tested in a crime lab to determine if they were used in the murder.
Luna said that he believed it was a deacon who called police after discovering that Bishop O’Connell had been shot. He had gone to check on the bishop when he had failed to show up for a scheduled meeting.
Several local officials and politicians spoke at the press conference, including Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez, who broke into tears and struggled to complete his brief comments on Bishop O’Connell.
“Out of his love for God, he served this city for more than 40 years,” Archbishop Gomez said.
“Every day he worked to show compassion to the poor, to the homeless, to the immigrant, and to all those living on society’s margins. He was a good priest and a good bishop and a man of peace, and we are very sad to lose him,” Archbishop Gomez said.
A native of Ireland, Bishop O’Connell, 69, ministered to immigrants, the poor, and victims of gang violence for 45 years in the South Los Angeles area. Pope Francis made him a bishop in 2015.
(Photo by EWTN.)
By Joe Bukuras, Catholic News Agency