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Arrest Made in Shooting Death of California Bishop

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A suspect has been arrested in the killing of a Catholic bishop who was fatally shot over the weekend in Southern California, authorities said Monday.

The person was arrested in the killing of Bishop David O’Connell, who was found in his home with a gunshot wound and declared dead at the scene, Los Angeles Sheriff’s Deputy Lizette Falcon said.

Falcon said details would be provided at a news conference at noon Pacific time.

O’Connell, 69, was killed just blocks from the St. John Vianney Catholic Church, part of his archdiocese, in Hacienda Heights, an unincorporated community about 20 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.

The bishop was found around 1 p.m. Saturday with a gunshot wound.

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Sheriff’s deputies were called to the area on a report of a medical emergency.

Authorities have not said whether the bishop was targeted or if his religion might have been a factor.

O’Connell had been a priest for 45 years and was a native of Ireland, according to Angelus News, the news outlet of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the nation’s largest. In 2015, Pope Francis named him one of several auxiliary bishops of the archdiocese.

He worked in South Los Angeles for years and focused on gang intervention, Angelus News reported. He later sought to broker peace between residents and law enforcement following the violent 1992 uprising after a jury acquitted four white LA police officers in the beating of Rodney King, a black man.

Nearly two decades later, O’Connell brought the San Gabriel Valley community together to rebuild a mission there after an arson attack, and in recent years, he spearheaded Catholic efforts in the region to work with immigrant children and families from Central America.

Masses at churches across the region were dedicated to O’Connell on Sunday.

Neighbors and parishioners left flowers and candles and prayed the rosary next to police tape in Hacienda Heights. About 50 people prayed and sang in a vigil Sunday afternoon near part of the neighborhood surrounded by crime scene tape.

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The Diocese of Cork and Ross in Ireland, where O’Connell was born, was shocked by the priest’s death. Bishop Fintan Gavin said in a statement that O’Connell “has always maintained his connection with family and friends in Cork” through frequent visits back to Ireland.

The violence was the latest to rock religious leaders in Los Angeles. Two Jewish men were shot and wounded last week by a gunman who authorities said targeted them for their faith. Suspect Jaime Tran has been charged with federal hate crimes.

The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.

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