Los Angeles bishop’s death being investigated as a homicide


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O’Connell, 69, had been a priest for 45 years and was a native of Ireland, according to Angelus News, the archdiocese’s news outlet. Pope Francis had named him one of several auxiliary bishops of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles — the largest in the country — in 2015.

O’Connell worked in South Los Angeles for years and focused on gang intervention, Angelus News reported. He later sought to broker peace between residents and law enforcement following the violent 1992 uprising after a jury acquitted four white LA police officers in the beating of Rodney King, a Black man. Nearly two decades later, he brought the San Gabriel Valley community together to rebuild a mission there after an arson attack.

O’Connell was found in Hacienda Heights around 1 p.m. Saturday with a gunshot wound. Sheriff’s deputies were called to the area — just blocks from the St. John Vianney Catholic Church, which is part of O’Connell’s archdiocese — on a report of a medical emergency.

Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene, the sheriff’s department said. The archdiocese said O’Connell lived in Hacienda Heights, but it was not immediately clear whether he was found at his home or elsewhere.

About a dozen people prayed the rosary next to police tape late Saturday after news of O’Connell’s death broke.

“He didn’t hold back his words. He was well spoken,” Jonny Flores told the Los Angeles Times from outside the crime scene. “He would take the time. He was very humble. He was never too busy.”

The sheriff’s department on Saturday initially only said homicide detectives had responded to “a shooting death investigation” with a male adult victim. Authorities did not identify the victim as O’Connell until Sunday morning.

The LA County sheriff offered the agency’s condolences, saying detectives are “committed to arresting those responsible for this horrible crime.”

“He was a peacemaker and had a passion serving those in need while improving our community,” Sheriff Robert Luna said on Twitter.

Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez initially only said O’Connell, who served in the city for decades, “passed away unexpectedly” without mentioning the violence. The archdiocese on Sunday referred media inquiries to the sheriff’s department.

“It is a shock and I have no words to express my sadness,” Gomez said in his original statement Saturday, calling him “a good friend.”

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( With inputs from : )


TheNewsCaravan News Desk

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