'beautiful angel' | 

Irish bishop David O’Connell shot dead in LA had been planning trip home to Ireland

Los Angeles police now believe Carlos Medina (61), a home repair contractor charged with the murder of Auxiliary Bishop David O'Connell (69) last Saturday, may have been under the influence of drugs at the time

Auxiliary Bishop David O'Connell

Ralph RiegelIndependent.ie

An Irish bishop shot dead as he slept in his US home had been planning to visit Ireland later this year.

The revelation came as Los Angeles police now believe Carlos Medina (61), a home repair contractor charged with the murder of Auxiliary Bishop David O'Connell (69) last Saturday, may have been under the influence of drugs at the time.

Mr Medina is the husband of Bishop O'Connell's housekeeper and had undertaken work at the cleric's Hacienda Heights home in east Los Angeles.

Bishop O'Connell, who was originally from Glanmire in Cork, was a regular visitor to Ireland.

He would often lead groups from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to Ireland - and loved celebrating Mass in Cork.

Parishioners in Los Angeles revealed the bishop had been planning a trip back to Ireland later this year to reunite with family, friends and Church colleagues.

The cleric had been hoping to make the trip home over the summer.

He was also intricately involved in the upcoming St Patrick's Day celebrations in California.

Archbishop of Los Angeles José Gomez confirmed that 'Bishop Dave’, as the Irish cleric was fondly known, had learned to speak fluent Spanish so he could help vulnerable migrants from Central and South America.

However, Bishop O'Connell spoke Spanish with a distinct Irish brogue and was renowned for his pride in his Irish roots.

The cleric was nicknamed 'The Peacemaker' in Los Angeles after his work in 1992 to help end the race riots that tore apart parts of the California city.

Multiple special ceremonies are now planned in California and Ireland to honour the legacy of the priest who worked over his entire ministry to help the poor and disadvantaged.

He was hailed by a former Los Angeles mayor as "one of the most beautiful angels" in the City of Angels.

Los Angeles police are still struggling to confirm a motive for the fatal shooting at the bishop's property last Saturday.

Bishop O'Connell died from a gunshot wound to his upper chest.

He was found lying on his bed at his residence in east Los Angeles off Janlu Avenue in the Hacienda Heights area shortly before lunchtime.

Police believe he was asleep in bed when attacked with no sign of forced entry.

Multiple shots were fired from a medium calibre handgun, possibly a .38.

Los Angeles prosecutors have confirmed that Mr Medina admitted the killing but had offered varying accounts for his actions.

His wife was not at the Hacienda Heights property.

He was arrested on Monday by armed police after a stand-off at his Torrance home, a short distance from the bishop's property.

Two firearms - including a .38 revolver - were recovered by police and ballistic tests are underway to determine if they are linked to the fatal shooting.

Homicide detectives do not believe the attack was motivated, as initially claimed, by Mr Medina's demand for money that he believed the cleric owed him.

They are now focused on Mr Medina's previous history of drug problems.

He has a conviction for methamphetamine possession and drug driving but had apparently not been using drugs until recent times.

Detectives are working to determine if Mr Medina had taken drugs in the hours before the fatal attack or whether he had visited the bishop's home to seek money for drugs.

The home repair contractor and landscaper was semi-retired but neighbours said he had been acting very erratically over recent times.

Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon said the defendant faces one count of murder and a further count of using a firearm to commit a criminal act.

If convicted, the contractor could face a sentence of between 35 years to life imprisonment.

Details of Bishop O'Connell's funeral are expected to be confirmed by the weekend.

Bishop O'Connell was ordained in 1979 and spent his entire ministry in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

While a native of Cork, he had studied at All Hallows in Dublin.

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