May 20. 2024. 11:17

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Murder of Irish bishop in LA: Housekeeper’s husband arrested after police stand-off

The suspect in custody for the murder of Irish-born Bishop David O’Connell in Los Angeles is the husband of his housekeeper, police have said.

At a press conference on Monday the Los Angeles Sheriff’s department identified the suspect as 65-year-old Carlos Medina.

Sheriff of Los Angeles county Robert Luna said the man had also carried out some work previously at the bishop’s house.

He said the suspect drove a car – a dark compact SUV – which was similar to a vehicle seen in surveillance footage parking in the driveway of the bishop’s residence and staying for a short period.

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He said a witness had contacted detectives on Sunday evening to say the suspect was acting strangely and had made comments about the bishop owing him money.

However, Sheriff Luna said that he was “not certain of any dispute” between the suspect and the bishop but that this was what police had been told and that detectives would seek to try verify it.

He said the suspect had been arrested at 8.15am local time on Monday. He said weapons were found at the suspect’s home and that ballistic tests were pending.

Sheriff Luna said the bishop’s housekeeper and wife of the suspect had been interviewed by police and was co-operating with the investigation.

[ Liberal Bishop David O’Connell, shot dead in Los Angeles, supported same-sex parents and ordination of women ]

Explaining the circumstances of the arrest, Sheriff Luna said a member of the public told detectives Mr Medina had left Los Angeles county and was believed to be in the central California area but at approximately 2am on Monday morning, they received a call from a local that the suspect had returned to his residence.

“Carson Sheriff Station Deputies along with our major crime bureau detectives contained the location and conducted call outs for Medina to surrender but he refused to come out his residence,” said Sheriff Luna.

The original warrant was amended to allow Los Angeles County Sheriff’s department’s Swat (Specialised Weapons and Tactical) personnel to enter the property and when they arrived at the scene, they took over the operation and called upon Mr Medina to surrender which he did at 8.15am.

Police are treating the death of Bishop O’Connell as murder. He was found dead on Saturday at his home in Hacienda Heights in Los Angeles.

Sheriff Luna said a deacon had phoned emergency services after calling to the bishop’s house on Saturday as he was late for a meeting.

Police said officers had called to the house just before 1pm on Saturday and discovered a man who had been shot.

“Paramedics arrived and pronounced him dead at the scene.”

Sheriff Luna said that Bishop O’Connell had sustained at least one gunshot wound to the upper body while in the bedroom of his residence.

Archbishop José Gomez said at the press conference that Bishop O’Connell was “a good priest, a good bishop and a man of peace”.

He said he had spoken fluent Spanish “with an Irish accent”.

Bishop O’Connell, who was a native of County Cork had served in the Los Angeles Archdiocese since 1979.

Sheriff Luna paid tribute to the community for its assistance, saying its help was invaluable. “I don’t think I would be standing here before you within 48 hours of this crime were it not for the members of our community who came forward and helped us along the way and gave us tips.”

He confirmed that Mr Medina’s wife was not working at Bishop O’Connell’s house on the day when he was shot and he also confirmed that she was co-operating fully with the police investigation but asked if she could possibly face charges, he did not rule them out saying “anything is possible”.

“Our priority before 8am this morning was to apprehend the suspect and we did by some amazing detective work and our next priority is to get him prosecuted and there will be information which we cannot talk about at this time but will come out as the detectives take this man to court.”