An Irish bishop known in the United States as “The Peacemaker” was shot and killed presumably while he slept in his bed in the house and was unable to defend himself.
The revelation came as Los Angeles held a special ceremony to honour Bishop David O’Connell, 69, who died of a fatal gunshot wound at his home on Saturday.
Bishop O’Connell, originally from Glenmire in Cork, died last Saturday from upper chest wounds at his residence in East Los Angeles.
It has now emerged that several shots from a medium-calibre pistol, possibly .38, were fired at the cleric while he was asleep on the bed.
Five rounds were fired.
Carlos Medina, 65, a home repair contractor, has been charged with the murder of Bishop O’Connell.
Mr Medina is the husband of the Irish cleric’s housekeeper and neighbours said the contractor, who has a previous drug conviction, had been behaving erratically in recent days.
Detectives said they were puzzling over a motive for the shooting after dismissing initial reports that Mr Medina believed Bishop O’Connell had given him money, reports Independent.
Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon said Mr Medina was facing one count of murder and another charge of using a firearm to commit a criminal act.
Prosecutors said Mr. Medina confessed to the murder to homicide detectives during interviews.
“I know this has been a shock for our community – this was a brutal act of violence against a person who dedicated his life to making our neighbourhoods safer, healthier and always served with love,” Mr Gascon said, reports Independent.
If convicted, the contractor faces between 35 years and life in prison.
Mr. Medina was held on $2 million (€1.9 million) bail.
Details of Bishop O’Connell’s funeral are expected to be confirmed by the weekend.
Grieving parishioners built temporary shrines to the priest throughout Los Angeles and held daily vigils, including candlelight ceremonies outside his Hacienda Heights home.
The Archdiocese of Los Angeles now wants to honour a priest who dedicated his life to helping the poor, vulnerable and migrants of Central and South America.
Los Angeles politicians praised Bishop O’Connell for his work on behalf of the city’s poor, vulnerable and immigrants.
Senator Bob Archuleta said that the bishop was completely devoted to helping the poor.
“[He] had an ability to walk the streets, everywhere he went bringing people together with clergy, bringing other priests together, bringing families together, gang members together. He brought everyone together. He was truly a man of the cloth,” reports Independent.
Irish clerics have often put themselves at personal risk in their efforts to help the poor and vulnerable. Several community activists said that “Bishop Dave” used his natural charm and good humour as well as street skills.
Father Jarlath Cunanan, pastor of St. Cornelius Church in Long Beach, first met Bishop O’Connell at All Hallows’ College in Dublin, when both were studying for the priesthood.
Bishop O’Connell was ordained a priest in 1979 and has spent his entire ministry in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
Father Kunnen met Bishop O’Connell for dinner just 48 hours before the fatal shooting and was incredulous when informed of the murder.
“He was a great friend,” he said, reports Independent.
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