Latino is suspected of murdering Bishop David O'Connell
An alleged debt of money could have been the cause for which Carlos Medina, 65, killed Catholic Bishop David O'Connell with a bullet to the chest, on Saturday at his residence in Hacienda Heights.
Witnesses who saw Medina acting erratically reported him, and after he barricaded himself in a house in the 2400 block of Kenwood Avenue in Torrance, where he was arrested this morning.
Homicide detectives with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department recovered two firearms from Medina's home, which will be examined to determine if both were used during the tragedy that mourned millions of Catholics.
At a press conference, Sheriff Robert Luna said the front door of Bishop O'Connell's residence was not forced. The wife of the murder suspect worked there.
“We got video of a dark, compact Dodge pickup arriving and parked in the driveway for a while,” Luna said.
“The person who gave us information [sobre Carlos Medina] told us that he was acting irrationally and mentioned that the Bishop owed him money,” the sheriff stated. "He. Apparently he had done some work at his house."
A deacon who went to Bishop O'Connell's home Saturday was the one who called 911 to report the crime. He arrived because the presbyter was late for an appointment.
The sheriff's department's Office of Special Enforcement had confirmed the suspect was "armed and barricaded."
However, sources personally linked to Bishop O'Connell had previously told La Opinión that the homicide was probably linked to the woman who was cleaning his home in the city of Hacienda Heights.
O'Connell, 69, was found dead in his bed at the residence in the 1500 block of Janlu Avenue, shot in the chest just before 1:00 p.m. Saturday.
On the verge of bursting into tears, Archbishop José H. Gómez, leader of the Catholic Church, expressed that Bishop O'Connell “was a peacemaker, with a heart for the poor and immigrants; he was passionate about building a community where the sanctity and dignity of every human life was honored and protected.”
Before asking for silence in memory of his brother in the faith, Gómez stressed that O'Connell “was a good friend and I will miss him very much. I know we will all miss him. Please join me in praying for Bishop Dave and his family in Ireland. May Our Lady of Guadalupe wrap him in the mantle of his love and may the angels lead him to paradise and may he rest in peace”.
The door was not forced
The death of Bishop O'Connell was considered "suspicious" from the beginning of the investigation, since there were no indications at the site that the front door of the house had been forced violently. The house belongs to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
Lt. Michael Modica told reporters that O'Connell was found dead in a room in the house with an apparent gunshot wound to the upper body.
“We are surprised that something like this has happened in our neighborhood,” said José Mercado, who had been out Saturday morning with his wife, but their son had stayed home, when they found out about the crime.
"We live a few steps from the Bishop's house, but here people say that no one heard any shots," José told La Opinión. “This area is not like other places where you hear the news that someone has been killed.”
With all these details, the authorities believed that the crime was planned with premeditation, treachery and advantage.
O'Connell was a native of Ireland. He was associate pastor at St. Raymond churches, in Downey; St. Maria Goretti, in Long Beach; San Hilario de la Adoración Perpetua, in Pico Rivera, and pastor of the churches of St. Frances X. Cabrini, St. Eugene and St. Michael. All in Los Angeles.
"In Sunday's gospel, he spoke of loving our enemies, and he would undoubtedly have embraced and forgiven the one who hurt him," Louis Velásquez, vicar for the clergy in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, told La Opinión.
“I have known Bishop O'Connell for more than 30 years and I know that he would not hold anger or seek revenge; that is foreign language for many, but not for us, as Catholics,” Velásquez said. "It is not a play on words, but if he had embraced the enemy for his life offered to God, we on earth already have a new lawyer in heaven."
On Sunday, dozens of people gathered at the intersection of Janlu and Los Robles avenues to lay bouquets of flowers and candles in memory of Bishop O'Connell.
"In ancient times there was talk of 'an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,' but Jesus called us to give a response of love and compassion," said priest Albert Avenido, of the Church of the Sacred Heart in the city of Covina, to where Bishop O'Connell was scheduled to administer the rite of ashes this Wednesday.
The Sheriff's Homicide Bureau urged anyone with information about the slaying to call (323) 890-5500 or Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477. Any reporting can also be done via smartphone by downloading the “P3 Tips” mobile app on Google Play or the Apple App Store or by using the website http://lacrimestoppers.org.
Bishop David O'Connell's legacy for immigrants and the most disadvantaged in society was manifested in his priestly vocation and ministry from those moments in which he testified on Capitol Hill about violence in the marginalized urban areas of the United States, and the riots that erupted in 1992 after the beating of the African-American Rodney King by white police officers.
In addition to working in neighborhood burn recovery efforts, Father O'Connell of St. Frances X. Cabrini Church (1988-1998) assisted in efforts to restore peace and trust among South Central residents. Los Angeles and law enforcement.
However, since 2012, O'Connell has been involved in advocating for immigrants alongside Cardinal Roger Mahony, particularly among young “dreamers” who have applied for protection against deportation under the DACA program.
In 2016 - a year after he was installed as auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles by Pope Francis - he fought for children and families separated at the border by the administration of former President Donald Trump.
“When the Church began to speak about immigrants to try to transform the hearts of those who opposed them -even Catholics who saw them as people who violated the laws- we were part of the task force of Bishop O'Connell, who considered that they were receiving inhumane treatment and he was not asking what should be done, but rather how to help and what we were going to do for them,” said Alba Ramiro, a member of the Southern California Migration Task Force (SocalTask Force).
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