Authorities investigating the killing of a Los Angeles bishop Saturday have made an arrest in the case, law enforcement sources said Monday.
Auxiliary Bishop David G. O’Connell, 69, was killed Saturday afternoon in the Catholic archdiocese-owned home in Hacienda Heights where he lived alone, authorities said.
One law enforcement source said O’Connell was found dead in his bed of a single gunshot wound. Multiple law enforcement sources said the investigation so far has revealed no signs of forced entry at the Janlu Avenue home and the crime was not believed to be random.
Few details were immediately available on the arrest. The suspect, a man who was apprehended in Torrance, is tied to a woman with access to the bishop’s home, according to a source with detailed knowledge of the investigation.
The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss the case with the media. The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, which is investigating the killing, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The sheriff’s department’s Special Enforcement Bureau posted on Twitter that “a SWAT operation for an armed, barricaded suspect” in Torrance Monday morning “has concluded. Suspect in custody. Kenwood Ave reopened. Neighborhood safe.” However, a spokesperson for the department would not comment on whether the incident was connected to O’Connell’s death.
Deputies answering a call for a medical emergency shortly before 1 p.m. Saturday found O’Connell. Paramedics later pronounced him dead at the scene. A couple who live on the quiet tree-lined street said they heard no gunshot or other unusual noise before the arrival of firefighters and ambulance crews.
L.A. Archbishop José H. Gómez on Saturday at first told parishioners that O’Connell “passed away unexpectedly.” Not until Sunday morning did the Sheriff’s Department release a statement saying the death “is being handled as a murder investigation.”
No mention was made of suspects and no further details were released.
“We are deeply disturbed and saddened by this news,” the archbishop said in an updated release. “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.”
O’Connell served as founder and chairman of the interdiocesan SoCal Immigration Task Force, helping scores of children who entered the United States without adult companions. “For me, it really is a labor of love,” he was quoted in a 2019 article. “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.”
In the 1990s, O’Connell gained a reputation for seeking to bridge relations between residents of riot-torn neighborhoods and local law enforcement after the police beating of Rodney King. L.A. County Sheriff Robert Luna on Sunday called the bishop a “peacemaker” who “had a passion serving those in need while improving our community.”
“My heart grieves after learning of the murder,” Luna posted to social media.
Parishioners at St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Church in South Los Angeles, where O’Connell served for more than a decade, recalled a man with humor, a deep commitment to social justice and dedication to serving the Black and Latino communities. They were stunned and struggling to make sense of the violence that claimed the life of someone whose calling was rooted in peace and love.
Officials plan a press conference Monday afternoon.
This is a breaking story and will be updated.