(CNN) — A man was taken into custody in connection with the shooting death of a Catholic bishop renowned for his work as a community “peacemaker,” the LA County Sheriff’s Department announced Monday.
Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell was found dead in his home in the Hacienda Heights neighborhood Saturday in what is being investigated as a homicide, the sheriff’s department said.
Deputies found O’Connell after responding to an emergency call shortly before 1 p.m., Deputy Lizette Falcon told CNN.
A news conference is scheduled for 3 p.m. PT (6 p.m. ET) Monday to detail the circumstances of the arrest.
Members of the Los Angeles Catholic community and political leaders praised O’Connell and expressed their surprise at his killing.
“It is a shock and I have no words to express my sadness,” Archbishop of Los Angeles José H. Gomez said in a statement Saturday announcing O’Connell’s death.
“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,” Gomez said. “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,” Gomez said.
Gomez on Sunday issued another statement saying he was “deeply disturbed and saddened” to learn his death was being investigated as a homicide.
O’Connell was a native of County Cork, Ireland, and ordained to serve in the Los Angeles Archdiocese in 1979, according to Angelus, a news platform of the archdiocese.
While working as an associate pastor, O’Connell ministered to communities dealing with gang violence and poverty in southern Los Angeles. He worked to restore trust between residents and law enforcement in the wake of the 1992 Los Angeles riots, Angelus said.
Working with immigrants was also a top priority for O’Connell and he served as chairman of the interdiocesan Southern California immigration Task Force, which helped coordinate the local church’s response to the recent influx of migrants from Central America, Angelus said.
“For me, it really is a labor of love,” he said of the task force in 2019, “because this is, I think, what our schools and parishes are all about. Not just for unaccompanied minors but for all our children. There’s an epidemic of hurting children, even the ones who have too much. They feel we’ve abandoned them. And the migrant youths have become a metaphor for our whole society.”
As police investigate the deadly shooting, the Los Angeles Catholic community reflected on his impact.
“I’m brokenhearted. I’ve been crying for the last few days knowing that he’s no longer here to share all of his inspiration and his prayers and everything with us,” parishioner Ramona Torres said.
“I’m very hurt — very hurt by his passing because he’s one of the most lovable persons I’ve met,” another parishioner, Gabriela Gil, said.
“Bishop O’Connell was a guiding light for so many, and his legacy will continue to live on,” the sheriff’s department said on Twitter. “We are working diligently to seek those responsible for his death.”
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