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NEW YORK – Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón announced Feb. 22 that the main suspect in the murder of Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell has been charged with one count of murder, and a “special allegation” that he personally used a firearm.
The suspect, Carlos Medina, a 61-year-old Hispanic man from Torrance, California, is being held on $2,000,000 bail, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff Department Records. While no motive has been established for the killing, witnesses say Medina had been making claims that O’Connell owed him money.
Gascón said in a Feb. 22 statement that the charges will never repair the harm caused by O’Connell’s murder, “but it does take us one step closer to accountability.”
“This was a brutal act of violence against a person who dedicated his life to making our neighborhoods safer, healthier and always serving with love and compassion,” Gascón said. “As Catholics around Los Angeles and the nation start the holy season of Lent, let us reflect on Bishop O’Connell’s life of service and dedication to those in greatest need of our care.”
Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles said during his homily at Ash Wednesday Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels that O’Connell was a “man who loved Jesus, and he gave his whole life to following Jesus, to being his friend, and to helping others to find Jesus, too.”
“And the truth is — only when we meet Jesus do we find the happiness that we are looking for. Bishop Dave knew this truth. And he wanted everyone to know this truth, too. And he showed us how beautiful life can be, when we love Jesus and live for him,” Gomez said.
“So, as we begin this holy season, we ask Bishop Dave’s intercession now from heaven. I know that he is as eager to help us from heaven as he was eager to help us here on earth,” Gomez continued. “We ask him to pray for us, that during this Lent, we might open our hearts and reflect on our lives, and on our relationship with Jesus Christ.”
O’Connell was found fatally shot in his Hacienda Heights home on Feb. 18. He was 69.
An investigation led authorities to identify Medina as the primary suspect. Medina’s wife was O’Connell’s housekeeper, and he had also previously worked at O’Connell’s residence, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna. The sheriff later clarified that while Medina may have worked for O’Connell, they’re “still trying to figure out what the relationship was.”
While a motive remains unclear, in a Feb. 20 news conference Luna noted that a tipster told authorities that “they were concerned because Medina had been acting strange, irrational, and making comments about the bishop owing him money.” The sheriff later clarified that he is not certain of any dispute between Medina and O’Connell, but said that “the detectives will investigate.”
Medina’s wife hasn’t publicly commented on O’Connell’s death. Authorities have said she is cooperating with the investigation, but Luna didn’t rule out the possibility of charges for her in the future, saying “at this point early on in the investigation anything’s a possibility.”
Follow John Lavenburg on Twitter: @johnlavenburg