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Bishop’s shooting death in LA being investigated as “suspicious”

David Gerard O’Connell


Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 02/19/23

"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."

Update: On Sunday afternoon, the LA sheriff’s department said the death had been ruled a homicide. Archbishop Gomez released a further statement:

We learned early this morning from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s office that they have determined that the death of Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell yesterday was a homicide. We are deeply disturbed and saddened by this news. 

Let us continue to pray for Bishop Dave and his family. And let us pray for law enforcement officials as they continue their investigation into this terrible crime. 

We ask Our Blessed Mother Mary to intercede and be a mother for all of us in this moment of sadness and pain.

Update: The Pillar reported Saturday night that it was unconfirmed that the bishop died from shooting:

[A] Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman told The Pillar Saturday evening that she could not confirm that O’Connell was the victim of the shooting under investigation.

By 9:00 pm Saturday evening in Los Angeles, the local City News Services, one of the first outlets to report that O’Connell died by gunshot, updated its coverage.

An auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles was found dead on Saturday afternoon, in a tragedy that police are currently investigating as “suspicious.”

Bishop David O’Connell, a 69-year-old native of Ireland, who served in Los Angeles County for 45 years, was discovered with a gunshot wound to the upper torso in a home in Hacienda Heights at about 1 p.m.

According to the sheriff’s department, the death is being investigated as “suspicious,” though no information about a suspect or suspects was released, and the department said it did not believe there was a threat to the public.

Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles released a statement, echoed by the US conference of bishops:

I am very sad this afternoon to report that our beloved Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell has passed away unexpectedly. It is a shock and I have no words to express my sadness.

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.

The Los Angeles Times noted Bishop O’Connell’s long service in some of LA’s poor neighborhoods, and said that the bishop gained his reputation after the 1992 Rodney King riots:

“Right away, we said that our churches were open for people, if they had taken stuff, to bring it back,” he said at the time. “People brought things back, and we tried to give them to the stores which they had come from.”

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