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A suspect is arrested in the killing of a Catholic bishop in Los Angeles County

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Police in Los Angeles arrested a suspect in the killing of Catholic bishop David O'Connell. O'Connell was 69 and was found shot to death at his home in an LA suburb on Saturday. His community remembers a priest who helped immigrants and the poor, and who was a peacemaker in violent neighborhoods. Here's NPR's Adrian Florido.

ADRIAN FLORIDO, BYLINE: Bishop David O'Connell was late for a meeting on Saturday. A deacon went to his house to check on him. He found the bishop in his bedroom dead from a gunshot wound. Yesterday, LA County Sheriff Robert Luna said officers had arrested Carlos Medina, who's married to the bishop's housekeeper.

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ROBERT LUNA: And the suspect had previously done work around the bishop's residence.

FLORIDO: Luna said detectives used surveillance video and a call from a tipster to identify Medina as the suspect.

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LUNA: Detectives were told by the tipster that they were concerned because Medina was acting strange, irrational and made comments about the bishop owing him money.

FLORIDO: The sheriff said that claim hasn't been confirmed. Police arrested Medina at his home yesterday and found two guns that are being tested. The investigation is ongoing. Bishop O'Connell's killing has shaken Los Angeles' large Catholic community. Born and educated in Ireland, he was ordained to be a priest in the LA Archdiocese in 1979. Over the decades, he served at churches across the county. A lot of his work was in south Los Angeles, where he worked to broker peace between rival gangs.

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BOB ARCHULETA: And he had the ability to walk the streets everywhere he went.

FLORIDO: This is State Senator Bob Archuleta.

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ARCHULETA: When the gang units were ready to fight, father was there, the bishop was there. It's a calling. And he answered that calling.

FLORIDO: In 2015, Pope Francis named O'Connell one of the five auxiliary bishops supporting LA's archbishop. He was a vocal supporter of immigrant rights who spoke Spanish with an Irish accent. And he was funny, peppering his sermons with jokes, like when he spoke to a congregation about the emotional toll of the pandemic.

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DAVID O'CONNELL: I was on a Zoom call with people in the archdiocese last summer. And I said, we're all a bit traumatized. People are easily triggered. People get mad at each other, blaming each other, condemning each other, canceling each other. And that's just the American bishops.

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FLORIDO: LA Archbishop Jose Gomez remembered O'Connell as a good priest. Holding back tears yesterday, he said Los Angeles Catholics were sorry to lose him.

Adrian Florido, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF DELIA DERBYSHIRE APPRECIATION SOCIETY'S "BLUE FILTER") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Adrian Florido
Adrian Florido is a national correspondent for NPR covering race and identity in America.