LOS ANGELES – A man accused of gunning down Los Angeles Catholic Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell at his home in Hacienda Heights was charged Wednesday with murder.
Carlos Medina was arrested Monday in connection with the Saturday shooting of the 69-year-old bishop. Medina is the husband of O’Connell’s housekeeper, and he also performed handyman work at the bishop’s home, Sheriff Robert Luna said earlier this week.
District Attorney George Gascón said the murder charge against Medina, 65, includes an allegation of the personal use of a firearm, meaning Medina faces 35 years to life in prison if convicted.
Medina was expected to be arraigned in downtown Los Angeles Wednesday afternoon.
Medina was arrested following an hours-long standoff at his home in the 2400 block of Kenwood Avenue in Torrance, Luna said Monday afternoon. Two firearms were recovered at Medina’s home, and they were being tested to determine if either weapon was involved in the Saturday shooting, Luna added.
While the motive for the crime remained uncertain, Luna said a tipster reported that “Medina was acting strange, irrational and made comments about the bishop owing him money.”
But the sheriff stopped short of saying such a dispute led to the killing, saying it was “something that came up from one of the witnesses” — and that investigators were still conducting interviews.
Gascón did not discuss a possible motive when he announced the murder charge during a midday news conference, saying only that the case remains under investigation. Sheriff’s Lt. Michael Modica said at the news conference that Medina made various statements after his arrest about a possible motive, but investigators found them to be largely nonsensical, leading them to believe there’s no validity to the idea of the bishop owing the suspect money as a contributing factor in the killing.
Luna said Monday that Medina’s wife was being questioned and has been “fully cooperative” with detectives.
The sheriff also said that while Medina was the husband of the bishop’s housekeeper, Medina himself had also “previously done work at the bishop’s residence,” although it was unclear when.
Luna said Medina drove a dark-colored compact SUV similar to one seen on surveillance video pulling into O’Connell’s driveway and leaving, although it was unsure when that occurred.
Luis Lopez was a neighbor of Medina’s and told ABC7 that Medina seemed like a good man and “looked like he wouldn’t hurt a fly.”
O’Connell, 69, was a native of Ireland and had been a priest and later a bishop in Los Angeles for 45 years, Archbishop José Gomez said in a statement released following his death.
“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,” Gomez said.