Housekeeper's Husband Arrested in Connection With Shooting Death of Los Angeles Bishop, Authorities Say

Slain bishop
Mourners gathered outside the home of slain Bishop David O'Connell.Getty

Housekeeper's husband arrested in connection with the shooting death of Los Angeles Bishop David O'Connell. The suspect said the cleric owed him money, authorities said.

The husband of a woman who worked as a housekeeper for Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop David O'Connell has been arrested in connection with the shooting death of the beloved Catholic cleric, authorities said.

Carlos Medina was taken into custody Monday after an overnight standoff with Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies, officials said. Witnesses said the man, who had done work at O'Connell's home, had been acting odd and complaining he hadn't been paid by O'Connell, Sheriff Robert Luna said at a news conference. 

"Detectives were told by a tipster that they were concerned because Medina was acting strange, irrational and made comments about the bishop owing him money," Luna said. The sheriff said Medina was 65, but online jail records list his age as 61. He is being held in lieu of $2 million bail.

“My heart grieves,” Luna said of the killing that occurred Saturday. “Although I personally did not know the bishop, I cannot tell you how many phone calls I’ve received over the last 48 hours from people who have worked with him in different capacities. This man, this bishop, made a huge difference in our community. He was loved.”

O'Connell, 69, was found dead in his Hacienda Heights home, about 20 miles southeast of downtown, on Saturday afternoon by deputies. They were responding to a call from a parish deacon, who had gone to check on the bishop after he failed to show up for a meeting, the sheriff said.

O'Connell was pronounced dead in his bedroom, and had been shot in the chest, Luna said. There was no sign of forced entry, he said.

Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gómez struggled for composure as he praised O’Connell as a selfless advocate for his parishioners and his community.

"Every day he wanted to show compassion to the poor, to the homeless, to the immigrant and to all those living on society’s margins. He was a good priest, a good bishop and a man of peace," the archbishop said before he began to weep.

O'Connell, who was from Ireland, spoke fluent Spanish with an Irish accent, Gómez recalled.

Medina's wife, who had worked as O'Connell's housekeeper for about a decade, was cooperating with investigators, authorities said.

"She's been fully cooperative and assisting the detectives with all the information they have," Luna said. 

Two firearms were confiscated from Medina's Torrance home, he said. They are being tested to determine if they were involved in O'Connell's fatal shooting, authorities said.

O'Connell was well-known in the Los Angeles diocese, which is the country's largest. He served for nearly 50 years and was a "peacemaker" who championed the poor and immigrant communities, the archbishop said. He had helped broker a peace agreement between residents and police in 1992, when rioters besieged L.A. after the acquittal of LAPD officers charged in the beating of Black motorist Rodney King.

He was born in 1953 in County Cork, Ireland. He was named an auxiliary bishop for the Los Angeles archdiocese by Pope Francis in 2015. He studied for the priesthood at All Hallows College in Dublin and was ordained to serve Los Angeles in 1979, the archdiocese said in its statement.

“Everywhere he went, whether it be East Los Angeles or here in the suburbs, the bishop touched everyone,” said Democratic state Sen. Bob Archuleta at Monday's press conference. “He had the ability to walk the streets everywhere he went, bringing everyone together.”

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