The husband of a housekeeper who worked for Archdiocese of Los Angeles Catholic Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell was arrested today in connection with the bishop’s shooting death at his home in Hacienda Heights.
Carlos Medina, 65, was arrested Monday morning following an hours-long standoff at Medina’s home in the 2400 block of Kenwood Avenue in Torrance, Sheriff Robert Luna said. Two firearms were recovered at Medina’s home, and they will be tested to determine if either weapon was involved in the Saturday shooting, Luna said.
Although the motive for the crime remained uncertain, Luna said neighbors told investigators that Medina had been heard making disturbing comments about O’Connell, claiming the bishop owed him money. But the sheriff stopped short of saying such a dispute led to the killing, saying it was “something that came up from one of the witnesses,” but investigators were still conducting interviews. He also said Medina had apparently done some type of work for O’Connell, but it was unclear when.
Luna said Medina drove a dark-colored compact SUV similar to one seen on surveillance video pulling into O’Connell’s driveway and leaving.
O’Connell, 69, was found shot just before 1 p.m. Saturday at a home in the 1500 block of Janlu Avenue, near Turnbull Canyon Road. Sheriff’s officials confirmed Sunday that his death was being investigated as a homicide.
Luna said there were no signs of forced entry into O’Connell’s home, and that the auxiliary bishop had at least one gunshot wound to the upper body. He was shot in the bedroom of his home, the sheriff said.
According to Luna, after investigators received tips from the public about Medina, they were told that the suspect had left the county and may have traveled to the Central California area. But early Monday morning, they were told that Medina had returned home, sparking the overnight standoff situation in Torrance.
Luna said Medina’s wife was being questioned and has been “fully cooperative” with detectives.
O’Connell was a native of Ireland and had been a priest and later a bishop in Los Angeles for 45 years, Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez said.
He previously served as associate pastor at St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church in Long Beach.
“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.”
At the time of his death, O’Connell — widely known as “Bishop Dave” — was vicar for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ San Gabriel Pastoral Region, a post he had held since 2015, when Pope Francis appointed him as an auxiliary bishop for the Los Angeles Archdiocese.
In addition to his Long Beach post, O’Connell had previously served as associate pastor at St. Raymond Catholic Church in Downey and St. Hilary Church of Perpetual Adoration in Pico Rivera, and then as pastor of St. Frances X. Cabrini, Ascension, St. Eugene and St. Michael’s parishes, all in Los Angeles.
O’Connell was born in County Cork, Ireland. He studied for the priesthood at All Hallows College in Dublin and was ordained to serve in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in 1979, according to Doris Benavides, associate director of media relations for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
As chairman of the interdiocesan Southern California Immigration Task Force, O’Connell helped coordinate the church’s response to immigrant children and families from Central America in recent years. He also sponsored the enrollment of several young immigrants in Catholic schools, a number of whom have advanced to college.
He served as a member of the Priest Pension Board and on the Together in Mission Board as well as the Archdiocesan Finance Council, the archdiocese said. He was a member of the Council of Priests and a Knight of Peter Claver.
At the national level, he was chairman of the Subcommittee on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
In September, O’Connell was honored with the Evangelii Gaudium Award from St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo, “for his selfless service to the community and the Church in L.A.,” Benavides said.
A gathering of mourners held candles and stood near the intersection of Janlu and Los Robles avenues Saturday night and prayed the rosary in his memory. A memorial was continuing to grow outside his home on Monday.
The sheriff’s Homicide Bureau urged anyone with information regarding the shooting to call them at 323-890-5500 or Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477. Tipsters can also use a smartphone by downloading the P3 Tips app or by using lacrimestoppers.org.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with more information from the Sheriff’s Department on the investigation.