More than a hundred people gathered in prayer next to Bishop David O’Connell’s Hacienda Heights home Sunday night, now the site of both a crime scene and a growing memorial.
O’Connell, 69, of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles was found dead inside his home in the 1500 block of Janlu Avenue just before 1 p.m. Saturday, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said.
When authorities arrived, they found O’Connell dead from a single gunshot wound to the upper torso. While his death was considered suspicious, authorities confirmed on Sunday that they are investigating the shooting as a homicide.
Throughout the day, people came by the house to leave flowers and pay their respects.
Jerry Dietz, a parishioner, told KTLA that he’s still trying to wrap his head around the reality that his religious leader was killed, and that the culprit is still on the loose.
“Everybody’s loss. Everybody that knew father, everybody that knew Bishop O’Connell … I mean, it’s just devastating,” he said.
During Sunday services, church leaders delivered the news.
“Early this morning, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office informed us that his death was a homicide,” Archbishop Jose Gomez said. “Obviously, we are deeply disturbed and saddened by this news.”
A native of County Cork, Ireland, O’Connell had served in the Los Angeles Archdioceses since 1979.
The bishop’s death and the many unanswered questions about it has left people unsettled and shaken, many of them now taking comfort in one another and in prayer, something that was very important to Bishop O’Connell.
“I’m very hurt by his passing because he’s one of the most loveable, humble persons I ever met,” Gabriella Gil, another parishioner who was paying her respects, told KTLA.
Police have yet to provide any information on a suspect or suspects, but have said that there is no longer a threat to the public.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the LASD’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Anonymous tips can be submitted to “Crime Stoppers” at 800-222-8477 or online at lacrimestoppers.org.