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Irish bishop David O'Connell shot dead in Los Angeles

Auxiliary Bishop David O'Connell (69) - who was known as 'The Peacemaker' - was shot and killed in south Los Angeles on Saturday

Auxiliary Bishop David O'Connell


An Irish-born bishop has been shot dead in the US.

Auxiliary Bishop David O'Connell (69) - who was known as 'The Peacemaker' - was shot and killed in south Los Angeles in California on Saturday.

The cleric was born in Cork and educated in Dublin at All Hallows College.

After his ordination into the priesthood, he spent almost half a century working in the US.

He has served in the Los Angeles Diocese since 1979.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department confirmed it was now investigating the fatal shooting of a 69 year old male at 12:57 p.m. on Saturday.

It is understood the shooting occurred at lunchtime at a property at Janlu Avenue in Hacienda Heights, Los Angeles County.

The victim involved suffered a single gunshot wound to the torso.

Despite desperate efforts by paramedics to stabilise the man's condition, he was pronounced dead at the scene before he could be rushed to hospital.

While the death is being investigated as suspicious, police have refused to comment further on their investigation.

It is unclear if the Irish cleric was the victim of an attempted robbery, a targeted attack or an accidental shooting.

Bishop O'Connell was renowned for his ministry in some of the poorest and most violent parts of Los Angeles.

He focused his ministry on working with migrant communities, many of whom had arrived in California from Central and South America.

The cleric earned his nickname of 'The Peacemaker' in the years after the 1992 race riots when he worked diligently to promote peace between various communities.

He also served as an intermediary after the 1992 riots which erupted following the acquittal of the police officers who had viciously beaten African-American motorist, Rodney King.

Part of the beating was captured on camera footage and sparked outrage across the US.

Bishop O'Connell had worked tirelessly to promote trust and understanding between communities, migrants, the police and various US Government agencies.

In a statement, Archbishop José Gomez confirmed the death of Bishop O'Connell and expressed his shock at the loss of a cleric who had devoted himself to the Los Angeles community for over 45 years.

“I am very sad this afternoon to report that our beloved Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell has passed away unexpectedly,” he said.

“It is a shock and I have no words to express my sadness."

Bishop O'Connell was also hailed as “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. 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."

The Cork-born cleric served as associate pastor in several parishes and had worked as a pastor at St. Frances X. Cabrini, Ascension, St. Eugene and St. Michael’s parishes – all in south LA.

Pope Francis raised the Irish cleric to a bishop in 2015.

Prayers for Bishop O'Connell have been offered at Masses throughout the Los Angeles community with several prayer vigils also being held to commemorate him.

Several vigils were held in the poorer communities where Bishop O'Connell had focused his ministry.

One woman, Glendy Peres, told 'The Los Angeles Times' everyone was heartbroken by the loss of "a soft spoken and truly lovely man."

Bishop O'Connell was also the chairman of the interdiocesan Southern California Immigration Task Force.

This worked to coordinate the church’s response to immigrant children and families arriving from Central America over recent years.

The group was central to assisting such families with getting their children into schools to secure a good education.

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