June 20. 2024. 12:58

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Fatal shooting of Cork-born bishop in Los Angeles treated as murder

The death of Cork-born Bishop David O’Connell in Los Angeles is being treated as a homicide and a murder investigation is under way, police have said.

Bishop O’Connell (69), who grew up in Glanmire, was found dead from a gunshot wound on Saturday in his house in the east of the city.

According to the LA County Sheriff’s Department, the shooting incident was reported at approximately 12.57pm on Saturday on the 1500 block of Janlu Avenue in Hacienda Heights. “Deputies responded to the location regarding a medical emergency call. When they arrived, they discovered a male adult suffering from a gunshot wound. Paramedics arrived and pronounced him dead at the scene,” police said.

Archbishop José H Gomez of Los Angeles expressed his sorrow at the news and urged people to pray for Bishop O’Connell’s family in Ireland. “We are deeply disturbed and saddened by this news,” said Archbishop Gomez.

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Bishop of Cork and Ross Dr Fintan Gavin said the news of Bishop O’Connell’s death had sent shock waves across his native diocese, particularly in the parish of Glanmire.

“On behalf of the people, priests and religious of the Diocese of Cork and Ross, and on my own behalf, I wish to express my sympathies and prayerful support to the O’Connell family in Cork, to Archbishop José H Gomes and the people, priests and religious of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

“Since his ordination in 1979 Bishop David has served as a priest in Los Angeles but has always maintained his connection with family and friends here in Cork where has been a regular visitor. We pray that the Lord will console Bishop David’s many friends in Cork and throughout Ireland.”

It is understood that Bishop O’Connell was predeceased by his parents, David and Joan O’Connell and he has one surviving brother and several nieces and nephews still living in the Cork area.

Bishop O’Connell studied at All Hallows in Dublin and following his ordination by fellow Cork man, Bishop John Scanlan of Honolulu, he went to Los Angeles where he began ministering to the disadvantaged in some of the city’s poorest neighbourhoods.

According to fellow Cork priest, Fr Tom Hayes, Bishop O’Connell was known as a peacemaker.

“Bishop O’Connell ministered in the Diocese of Los Angeles working among the underprivileged and he specifically asked for that ministry — he would have done a lot of work in communities afflicted by gangland culture and he was known as a peacemaker.

“It was in recognition of that work in these communities that he was ordained an Auxiliary Bishop by Pope Francis in 2015 but he again asked to remain in the community there so as to continue working with the underprivileged and disadvantaged and that’s sadly where he lost his life.”

According to the Catholic News Agency, Bishop O’Connell gained his reputation as an intermediary after the 1992 riots following the acquittal of the police officers who savagely beat Rodney King when he was instrumental in trying to rebuild trust between officers and communities in South L.A.

“Right away, we said that our churches were open for people, if they had taken stuff, to bring it back. People brought things back and we tried to give them to the stores which they had come from,” he said at the time.

About a dozen local Catholics came together to pray for Bishop O’Connell on Saturday night in Hacienda Heights, holding candles and praying the rosary next to the police tape outside of the crime scene.