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Criminal Justice

A High-Ranking Official In LA's Catholic Community Was Shot And Killed Saturday

A man with gray hair and a beard wears a golden robe with crosses on it as he raises his hands in front of people with bowed heads.
Bishop David O'Connell leads a non-denominational memorial service in Long Beach in 2020. O'Connell was fatally shot on Saturday in Hacienda Heights.
(Apu Gomes
AFP via Getty Images)
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  • Monday, Feb. 20, 10:20 a.m.: L.A. County Sheriff's officials have confirmed an arrest has been made in connection with the shooting death of Auxiliary Bishop David O'Connell. A news conference is scheduled for 3 p.m. We will have more on this developing story.

A high-ranking official in the L.A. Archdiocese has been shot to death, sheriff's officials have confirmed. Auxiliary Bishop David O'Connell was found dead Saturday afternoon.

Authorities said they found O’Connell suffering from a gunshot wound when they were called to an address in the 1500 block of Janlu Avenue in Hacienda Heights about 1 p.m. Saturday. Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.

In a news release Sunday about the case, the L.A. County Sheriff's Dept. said:

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"This incident is being handled as a murder investigation. There is no additional information available at this time."

What the L.A. Archdiocese is saying

Archbishop José Gomez, in a statement Sunday, said: "We are deeply disturbed and saddened by this news.”

Gomez announced O'Connell's death was a homicide during Sunday Mass at Our Lady of the Angeles Cathedral in downtown Los Angeles. The site also said O'Connell was found in his home.

On Saturday, Gomez called the death unexpected adding: "It is a shock and I have no words to express my sadness."

He said this about O'Connell's work:

“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.”

Reaction from other leaders

Former L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti:

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Fellow Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron:

O'Connell's background

Born in Ireland and known locally as Bishop Dave, O’Connell served in L.A.’s archdiocese for 45 years.
In 2015, he was named an auxiliary bishop by Pope Francis, a role that works on behalf of a bishop or archbishop to handle the diocese's needs. L.A., which is made up of more than 280 parishes and serving some 4.3 million Catholics, has as many as six auxiliary bishops at any given time. Prior to O'Connell's death, there were five.

He is a graduate of University College Dublin, where he studied philosophy and English and went on to get a Bachelor of Divinity from Maynooth College in 1977 and a Masters of Spirituality from Mount St. Mary’s College in 1987, according to his biography on the Archdiocese of Los Angeles website.

Locally he served as a priest at:

  • St. Raymond in Downey
  • St. Maria Goretti in Long Beach
  • St. Hillary in Pico Rivera
  • St. Frances X. Cabrini in L.A.
  • Ascension Catholic Church in L.A.
  • St. Eugene in L.A.
  • St. Michael in L.A.
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Updated February 19, 2023 at 11:43 AM PST
This story was updated with addition biographical information about O'Connell as well as the church.
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