The death of Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell is being investigated as a homicide, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department confirmed to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles early this morning. 

Archbishop José H. Gomez gave the update to parishioners gathered for Sunday Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels Feb. 19, one day after the Irish-born bishop was found dead at his residence in Hacienda Heights. A statement was also released to news media Sunday morning. 

“We continue to pray for Bishop Dave, and for his family in Ireland, and we pray for law enforcement officials as they continue their investigation into this terrible crime,” he added. 

In a news release issued Sunday morning, the Sheriff’s department said that deputies had responded to a medical emergency on the 1500 block of Janlu Avenue in Hacienda Heights and found the bishop suffering from a gunshot wound. 

“When they arrived, they discovered a male adult suffering from a gunshot wound,” according to the Sheriff’s release. “Paramedics arrived and pronounced him dead at the scene.”

The release said that O’Connell’s death was being handled as a murder investigation, and encouraged anyone with information about the incident to contact the department’s homicide bureau at 323-890-5500. 

In his homily at the Mass, Archbishop Gomez recalled a detail from O’Connell’s homily at the annual Mass for the Sick, which the two celebrated together the Saturday before his death, Feb. 11.

“We had a beautiful statue of the Virgin Mary on that side of the sanctuary,” explained Archbishop Gomez. “So as he was starting the homily he went over there and prayed to the Blessed Mother. And then he turned around and said at the beginning of the homily: ‘She told me to tell you that she loves you.’

“That is who Bishop Dave was,” continued the archbishop. “He had a wonderful sense of humor and a beautiful devotion to our Blessed Mother. We all miss him very much.”

Bishop O'Connell

Auxiliary Bishop David O'Connell preaches at the annual World Day of the Sick Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels Feb. 11, 2023. (Victor Alemán)

O’Connell’s death also drew messages of sympathy and mourning from his native Ireland, where he was known to visit family and friends regularly.

In a statement issued Sunday, the bishop of O’Connell’s home diocese expressed “sympathies and prayerful support to the O’Connell family in Cork, to Archbishop José H. Gomez and the people, priests, and religious of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

“The news of the tragic death of Bishop David O’Connell in Los Angeles has sent shockwaves across his native Diocese of Cork and Ross,” said Bishop Fintan Gavin of Cork and Ross.

“We will pray for Bishop David at Mass throughout the Diocese of Cork and Ross in the coming days asking the Lord to comfort his family, his colleagues and all the bereaved,” said the bishop. “Bishop David worked tirelessly for peace and harmony in communities; may he now rest in the peace of the Lord.”

O’Connell was originally from Brooklodge, Glanmire in County Cork, the largest county in Ireland. 

Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna also confirmed the news of Bishop O’Connell’s murder, writing on Twitter Sunday morning that “My heart grieves after learning of the murder of Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell” and that his department “is committed to arresting those responsible for this horrible crime.”