Shooting death of Los Angeles bishop being investigated as murder, authorities say

The sheriff's department said detectives are investigating this as a suspicious death though no further details were released.

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Monday, February 20, 2023
LA bishop shot and killed in Hacienda Heights, authorities say
An auxiliary bishop with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles was shot to death Saturday afternoon in Hacienda Heights, authorities confirmed.

LOS ANGELES -- The shooting death of an auxiliary bishop with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in Hacienda Heights is being investigated as a murder, authorities confirmed.

According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, deputies responded to a medical emergency call on the 1500 block of Janlu Avenue just before 1 p.m. Saturday.

Bishop David O'Connell was found in the room of a home with a gunshot wound to the upper torso. The 69-year-old, who was a priest and later a bishop in L.A. for 45 years, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Video in our media player above is from a previous update

The sheriff's department, which initially described the incident as a "suspicious death," has not released information regarding a suspect or suspects. Investigators told ABC News that suicide was ruled out overnight.

No further details were available.

Earlier on Saturday, Archbishop José H. Gomez released a statement on O'Connell's death, saying he had "passed away unexpectedly."

"It is a shock and I have no words to express my sadness," read the statement.

"As a priest and later a bishop here in Los Angeles for forty-five years, Bishop Dave was a man of deep prayer who had a great love for Our Blessed Mother. 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.

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."

Devastated parishioners gathered by the crime scene Saturday as deputies investigated.

"It broke me and I was scared to tell my wife because my wife loved him so much," said parishioner Johnny Flores.

Glendy Perez, another parishioner, said O'Connell "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."

O'Connell, who was born in Ireland in 1953, was named an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles by Pope Francis in 2015.

He studied for the priesthood at All Hallows College in Dublin and was ordained to serve in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in 1979. After ordination, he served as associate pastor in several parishes and as pastor at several parishes in L.A.

He was the chairman of the Interdiocesan Southern California Immigration Task Force, helping coordinate the church's response to immigrant children and families from Central America.

Meanwhile, anyone with information about the death is urged to call homicide detectives at 323-890-5500 or Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

This is a developing story. This article will continue to be updated as more information becomes available.