(KTLA) — Authorities are investigating the death of an auxiliary bishop with the Roman Catholic Church who was shot to death in Los Angeles County Saturday afternoon. Bishop David O’Connell, 69, of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles was found dead inside his home in Hacienda Heights just before 1 p.m., 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, officials said. His death is being investigated as suspicious.
A native of County Cork, Ireland, O’Connell was ordained to serve in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in 1979. He was appointed Titular Bishop of Cell Ausaille and Auxiliary Bishop in 2015. O’Connell had served in Los Angeles for 45 years. He spent most of his four decades as a priest ministering in L.A.’s inner city area, officials said.
Archbishop José H. Gomez released a statement on O’Connell’s death, saying:
“I am very sad this afternoon to report that our beloved Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell has passed away unexpectedly. It is a shock and I have no words to express my sadness.
As a priest and later a bishop here in Los Angeles for forty-five years, Bishop Dave was a man of deep prayer who had a great love for Our Blessed Mother. He was a peacemaker with a heart for the poor and the immigrant, and he had a passion for building a community where the sanctity and dignity of every human life was honored and protected.
He was also a good friend, and I will miss him greatly. I know we all will. Please join me in praying for Bishop Dave and for his family in Ireland. May Our Lady of Guadalupe wrap him in the mantle of her love, and may the angels lead him into paradise, and may he rest in peace.”
Janice Hahn, Chair of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, responded by saying, “I was very sad to learn of the passing of Bishop O’Connell. He was a longtime friend. I was fortunate to work with him during my time on the city council and again as Supervisor. I join with Archbishop Gomez and the people of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in mourning his loss.”
A crowd of parishioners gathered near O’Connell’s home on Saturday night, reciting the rosary and praying for his family. The shooting remains under investigation. Although no further information was provided Sunday morning, authorities said there was no threat to the public.