Housekeeper’s Husband Arrested After Murder of Los Angeles Bishop, Police Say
Police arrested the husband of a housekeeper of Bishop David O’Connell in connection with the Los Angeles cleric’s murder, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said on February 20.
LA County Sheriff Robert Luna said Carlos Medina was arrested after a six-hour stand-off with police at his home in the Torrance area of Los Angeles on Monday.
Luna said the department had received a tip that Medina had been “acting strange, irrational, and made comments about the bishop owing him money.”
Luna said Medina had previously carried out work at the bishop’s residence, but said he was not aware of any dispute involving the pair and said the allegations of a dispute over money had come from one witness.
A number of interviews were taking place and the investigation was ongoing, Luna said.
The 69-year-old bishop, who was originally from County Cork, Ireland, was shot dead in his home in Hacienda Heights in Los Angeles on Saturday, February 18. Credit: Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department via Storyful
LORENA RODRIGUEZ: Good afternoon. Thank you for joining us today. My name is Lorena Rodriguez. I'm captain at Sheriff's Information Bureau. Today, Sheriff Robert Luna will provide information related to the murder of Bishop David O'Connell.
The order of speakers today will be Sheriff Robert Luna, State Senator Bob Archuleta, representing the 1st district field deputy for supervisor Hilda Solis, Esther Lim, representing the 4th district supervisor, Janice Hahn, and in closing will be Archbishop José Gomez. Now it is my honor to present the sheriff of Los Angeles County, Robert Luna.
ROBERT LUNA: Thank you all for being with us here today. And thank you for your patience. I know we had to change the time once today, but you'll find as I'm relaying this story to you why we wanted to wait a couple of additional hours to provide you the best information that we possibly could.
And before I start with my comments, I know many of you in the room, you usually have outstanding questions. And I will do everything I can to possibly answer every question that you have. Although our priority before 8:00 AM this morning was to apprehend this suspect, and we did by some amazing detective work, our next priority is to get him prosecuted. And there will be information that we simply cannot talk about at this time but will come out as we take-- the detectives take this man to court and try and get him filed on.
So let me back up here. On Saturday, February 18 at approximately 1:00 PM, the industry sheriff's station deputies responded to a person not breathing rescue call in the 1500 block of Janlu Avenue in the city of Hacienda Heights. Deputies and paramedics arrived at the residence, and a male was pronounced deceased at that scene at that time.
While at the location, it was discovered that the male was auxiliary Bishop David O'Connell. Bishop O'Connell sustained at least one gunshot wound to the upper body while in the bedroom of his residence. At the time, the cause of death was unclear to our detectives but appeared suspicious in nature.
A firearm was not recovered at the scene, and there was no forced entry into the Bishop's residence. Homicide investigators were called and responded to the scene. Upon arrival, they reviewed evidence, conducted interviews, and canvassed the neighborhood for surveillance video footage.
Early Sunday morning, investigators from the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office arrived on scene and began their investigation alongside the detectives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, at which time it was determined that Bishop O'Connell's-- this incident was a murder. It was now a murder investigation.
Later that morning, detectives discovered surveillance footage that showed a vehicle that had pulled into the bishop's driveway, stayed for a short time, and left the location. The vehicle was described as a dark-colored compact SUV.
Sunday evening at approximately 7:00 PM, detectives received a tip that there was a person of interest who resided in the city of Torrance. The person of interest was identified as Carlos Medina, a 65-year-old male Hispanic. 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.
Medina is the husband of Bishop O'Donnell-- oh, I'm sorry. Medina is the husband of Bishop O'Connell's housekeeper who has previously done work at the bishop's residence and drove a similar SUV to the one previously seen in the driveway of the bishop's residence. So just to confirm, this is the husband of the bishop's housekeeper, and the suspect had previously done work around the bishop's residence.
Detectives learned Medina's residence in the 2400 block of Kenwood Avenue in the city of Torrance. A tipster told detectives Medina had left Los Angeles County and was believed to be in the Central California area. Detectives authored a warrant for Medina's arrest and a search warrant for his residence.
Homicide investigators served a warrant with the assistance of our Major Crimes Bureau detectives. At approximately 2:00 AM this morning, we were alerted by a community member that Medina had returned to his residence. Carson Sheriff's station deputies, along with our Major Crime Bureau detectives contained the location and conducted callouts for Medina to surrender, but he refused. He refused to come out of his residence.
The original search warrant for his residence was amended by detectives, which enabled our Special Enforcement Bureau to enter the location to arrest Medina and search his home. This morning, our Special Enforcement Bureau personnel arrived on scene and took over the tactical operation. Additional call outs were made to Medina to surrender. And at approximately 8:15 this morning, Medina exited his residence and was taken into custody without further incident.
As a result of the second search warrant, detectives recovered two firearms and other evidence possibly linking Medina to the crime. The firearms will need to be examined and tested by our crime lab to determine if either of those firearms were used in the murder.
As I have previously stated, my heart grieves. Although I personally did not know the bishop, I cannot tell you how many phone calls I have received over the last 48 hours of people who have worked with him in different capacities. And this man, this bishop, made a huge difference in our community.
He was loved, and it's very sad that we're gathered here today to talk about his murder in this way. He's been a pillar in our community, known as a peacemaker, a passion for serving those in need. And you'll hear more about that as other partners of mine that are here beside me will get up and talk.
I do want to spend a couple of minutes here because I don't want this to be overshadowed. As tragic as it is to be talking about the murder of Bishop O'Connell, our detectives for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, our homicide detectives, our major crimes detectives, and everyone else involved did an amazing job.
If you look at the way I laid this story out, it was non-stop work. There's people around me who haven't slept. And I really applaud them for their professionalism. And I got to tell you, I couldn't be more proud of them as I'm reporting their good work to all of you today.
But as I stated earlier, we wanted to wait a little bit more to give you as much detailed information as we could. But there is information that unfortunately we will not give out in detail at this time because the next step is to present all of the evidence that we have gathered and try to get a criminal prosecution on Medina.
So I just want to make sure that's known. Keeping the integrity of this investigation is a priority. And like I said, we're going to open it up to questions here after all of my partners speak, but we'll be very disciplined about what we can answer or not.
There's also another factor I talked about, the excellent work by our homicide detectives. I don't think I'd be standing in front of you within 48 hours of this crime if it wasn't for the members of our community who came forward and helped us along the way and gave us tips. When we talk about the fact that we're more effective as a department reducing crime in partnership with the community, this is a perfect example.
We had people from different locations that gave us information that helped us solve this crime. And they will continue to do so. But at the same time, I urge anybody that has more information about anything they may know about Medina or any of his activities to please come forward. And as other speakers talk about bishop, the bishop, you'll see why we need to do this as a community to move forward with his legacy.
So with that, I will turn it over to the next speaker, our state senator. And then again, I'll come back up here to answer questions that any of you may have. Thank you.
BOB ARCHULETA: Well, good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I'm Senator Bob Archuleta. And let me begin by offering my condolences from the governor, my colleagues in Sacramento, everyone in the county of Los Angeles throughout the state, and, in reality, throughout the nation. The calls are coming in. As you will hear later from those that will be speaking, the calls will continue.
He has touched all of us. Our bishop-- and I say our bishop, your Bishop, because in my community of Pico Rivera, he served at Saint Hillary's. He served in Long Beach. He served throughout this county. Everywhere he went, whether it be in East Los Angeles or here in the suburbs, wherever it was, the bishop touched everyone.
And I know that each and every one of you that are here today realize that Bishop O'Connell has touched you as well. And my personal story is I went to Salesian High School, a Catholic high school in East Los Angeles where the bishop has visited. Others have been there. And he had the ability to walk the streets everywhere he went, bringing people together, the clergy bringing other priests together, bringing families together, gang members together.
He brought everyone together. He was truly a man of the cloth, but he did something that we don't hear of very much anymore-- reaching out to bringing people together in a peaceful way. When the gang units were ready to fight, Father was there. The bishop was there. It's a calling, and he answered that calling.
So today, all of us have come together. And I personally would like to say thank you to Sheriff Luna. Thank you to the homicide unit. I personally served on the Montebello Police Department, and I know what a detective unit can do when they set their mind to it. And they went after it.
So those in that unit, God bless you for what you did nonstop. And as we heard, some of the men and women have not slept at all because they were not going to let this day go by without apprehending that suspect and making sure he's brought to justice.
So the team here in LA County, the County Sheriff's Department, everyone, the coroner's office, this was a team effort that's brought this together today. So again, I'd like to thank you all for being here to acknowledge someone who, I believe, has touched every one of us here throughout the state, the county, and certainly the city of Los Angeles.
So once again, Chief Luna, thank you to your team. And, ladies and gentlemen, once again thank you. I'm Senator Bob Archuleta. I appreciate you being here today. Thank you.
ESTHER LIM: Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Esther Lim, and I serve as Supervisor Hilda Solis' justice deputy. I'm here on her behalf to share her remarks. The supervisor, if you don't know, represents the 1st District, which includes Hacienda Heights, where unfortunately Auxiliary Bishop David O'Connell was brutally killed. These are her remarks.
"I'm deeply saddened, and my heart broke when I heard of the news that my friend's life was senselessly taken away from all of us, his family, his parishioners, and the communities he has devoted his life to. I have known Bishop O'Connell since my time in Congress, and our friendship continued through my tenure as President Obama's Secretary of Labor and as LA County Supervisor.
I have been a recipient of the bishop's blessing and kindness when he conducted a mass to support my confirmation as Secretary of Labor. I have so many fond memories of the two of us advocating for immigration reform, and as witness to his devotion and care for the most vulnerable. It was deep, genuine, and palpable. He was the real deal.
I also learned that the community-based crisis workers who responded to the scene that night to provide support were also impacted by the killing of Bishop O'Connell, stating that he was a supporter of theirs.
He was known to be a peacemaker during the most tumultuous times in LA history, and his presence helped us get through it. His loss is tremendous as is his grief that follows. I also want to take this time to thank the sheriff, the Sheriff's Department, and all those involved in the arrest of the suspect. The justice system will take its course as we grieve, heal, and lean on the messages and examples he has shown all of us.
Bishop O'Connell's death will not be in vain. We will do as he taught us-- to love, to care, and to fight for the vulnerable. I will miss him. Thank you."
JANICE HAHN: I'm supervisor Janice Hahn. I'm the chair of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. And the news of Bishop O'Connell's murder still has myself and many people reeling, not just in LA County but across our nation and even all the way to Ireland, where his family still resides. I want to thank you, Sheriff Luna, our LA Sheriff's Department homicide detectives for their round-the-clock work on this investigation, and we're grateful that they were able to make the arrest so quickly.
Bishop O'Connell was also a long time friend of mine. I first met him when I was on the city council of Los Angeles and represented Watts, and he was the pastor at Ascension Catholic Church in South LA. And he and I worked on, as Senator Archuleta said, working with gang members, working with the community.
He was known to walk among the people. He reached out to gang members. He reached out to the homeless. He reached out to the transients. He was the help of the helpless and the hope of the hopeless. And he knew that serving God meant serving man and especially the most vulnerable in our society.
He devoted himself to supporting immigrants, not only making sure that they had food and shelter but even helping immigrant children, unaccompanied minors get into Catholic schools. And he helped them get into college. His heart was boundless. The Catholics of Los Angeles have lost an incredible leader.
Archbishop, we mourn with you. Even those of us who are Protestants, we always felt the love of Bishop David. The County of Los Angeles has lost a partner in our work to help those in need. And the world has lost a force for goodness and kindness.
It's unthinkable that his life came to an end so tragically. And as the chair of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, I've ordered all of our county flags to be lowered to half staff in Bishop David's honor. Thank you.
JOSÉ H. GOMEZ: Good afternoon to everyone. And I want to thank all of you for being here and especially for your concern for Bishop David O'Connell. Bishop David was a good friend to Los Angeles.
Out of his love for God, he served this city for more than 40 years as an immigrant from Ireland. And I would say that among the many things that I admired him in his life and ministry was that he was fluent in Spanish with an Irish accent.
Every day, he worked to show compassion to the poor, to the homeless, to the immigrant, and to all those living on society's margins. He was a good priest, and a good bishop, and a man of peace. And we are very sad to lose him.
I'm very grateful to Sheriff Luna and to his investigative team for their hard work in bringing a suspect into custody. So on behalf of the entire Catholic community, we want to express our gratitude for the Sheriff's Office, for their professionalism and sensitivity.
ROBERT LUNA: [WHISPERING]
JOSÉ H. GOMEZ: In what is a sad and painful moment for all of us, thank you again for your concern and condolences. And please, let's keep praying for the Bishop David and his family. And let's keep praying for the law enforcement officials as they continue their investigation. And let us pray for our great city. Thank you very much.
ROBERT LUNA: Ready for your questions.
- Good afternoon. Who called 911?
ROBERT LUNA: From the information I have, a deacon went to the home to go check on him because he was late for a meeting. And I believe it was the deacon who dialed 911, and we responded.
- Any idea how long he'd been there?
ROBERT LUNA: The investigation will determine that to figure out the time of death and those other factors that are very critical to our investigation.
- I was told he was in bed. Is that the case?
ROBERT LUNA: That's correct. Yes, sir?
- Sheriff, is there any indication how long this possible dispute between the suspect and the bishop went on at this time? Any idea?
ROBERT LUNA: Not at this time. But that's a question that we have as well. That will go towards hopefully the motive of this horrendous crime. Yes.
- You're saying there was some kind of a dispute? And I know you're limited on what you can say, but can you give us some sense of the motive, what may have led up to it?
ROBERT LUNA: I am not certain of any dispute. I know in my remarks, in regards to the question about a potential dispute, that that's something that came up from one of the witnesses. But as all of you know, our investigation continues, which means interviewing multiple witnesses to find out and get a better picture of what happened here.
- So what-- I mean, what-- can you shed any light on what led to the shooting?
ROBERT LUNA: Not at this time, but we intend to find out.
- You indicated that he had done-- the suspect had done work for the bishop in and around the property. Did he know the bishop personally or was the only connection, as far as you know, through his wife?
ROBERT LUNA: Those are things that we're still trying to find out. But based on what I know at this time, the suspect had been at the bishop's house before doing work. So there was some kind of maybe a working relationship, but we're still trying to figure out what that relationship was.
- At this point, then it's possibly a dispute over money or non-payment of money?
ROBERT LUNA: I'm not standing here in front of you telling you it's a dispute over money yet. It's something that we've heard to this point, and that is something that the detectives will go out and validate and see if it's true or not.
- Has the suspect's wife been able to give you or shed any light about anything related to either motive or actions that we have had or interactions with the bishop at all?
ROBERT LUNA: The detectives are absolutely interviewing her. As far as we know at this time, she's been fully cooperative and assisting the detectives with all the information they have thus far.
- Did the suspect work at the bishop's house that day? Or when was the last time he worked there?
ROBERT LUNA: I don't have that information in front of me. I don't believe it was that day. But as we look at this and ask questions, we'll figure out at what point was he working there in the past.
- Sheriff, was she there earlier that day?
ROBERT LUNA: She was not working on that day.
- Sheriff, do you know yet-- so because of this relationship, and we talked about no forced entry into the home that you guys have found, are you saying-- did he get entry into the home through a key that they had? Or how did he get into the home?
ROBERT LUNA: So the question is, how do we know there was no forced entry? At this point, we have no evidence of forced entry, like a burglary or anything of that nature. But those are things that we'll look at. How he exactly got in there, that's what the detectives need to start piecing together.
- But you can't say whether he had access to a key or something like that at this point.
ROBERT LUNA: As I stand here in front of you right now, I do not know that. But we intend to find out.
- Could charges be filed against the housekeeper?
ROBERT LUNA: I think at this point early on in the investigation, I think anything is a possibility.
- We talked to-- we talked to a friend who found out that the bishop had died from the housekeeper. Do you know how the housekeeper found out? Was she still in contact with her husband? Were they estranged?
ROBERT LUNA: I have not heard that, so there's no way for me to verify what you just stated.
- Where was the housekeeper, I guess, is a question that I'm asking? Do you know where she was? Have you located or spoken to her?
ROBERT LUNA: Yes, the detectives have spoken to her, and she is cooperating with the investigation.
- Sheriff, speaking about the suspect's wife, was she employed privately by the bishop? Or was she employed by the archdiocese? And are you able to release her name?
ROBERT LUNA: I don't have that right now in front of me. That'll be a follow-up that we can get back to you on. You had a question over here.
- Charges, have any at all been maybe filed at this point?
ROBERT LUNA: We're still putting that together. I mean, we just arrested this guy at 8:15 this morning. So the detectives are going to work hard. And today's a holiday. So we'll get there.
- Two More questions.
- Do you have a date of birth on this suspect? I realize it's a holiday, so we're trying to stay on top of as this progresses. Do you have a birthday?
ROBERT LUNA: I can tell you the suspect is 65 years old. I do not have a birthday here in front of me.
- [SPEAKING SPANISH]
ROBERT LUNA: [SPEAKING SPANISH]
- [SPEAKING SPANISH]
ROBERT LUNA: [SPEAKING SPANISH]
Thank you all for your--
HILDA SOLIS: Sheriff, can I--
ROBERT LUNA: Oh.
HILDA SOLIS: I'm sorry. I just got here.
ROBERT LUNA: I'm sorry.
HILDA SOLIS: Thank you, sheriff.
ROBERT LUNA: Yes, ma'am. Please.
HILDA SOLIS: Thank you, sheriff. And I want to thank everyone. But my heart is broken. I can't believe the last time you and I have been standing together, and here we are again, faced with another tragedy.
But this time it hits really home for some of us because Bishop David O'Connell was a personal friend, and someone who was very valiant, and someone who cared so much about our community, especially the immigrant community.
I came to know him and his passion because of his work helping to pass immigration reform when I served in the Congress, and he continued to diligently work and seek assistance for those vulnerable individuals in our community, especially young people, and especially the undocumented young people, DACA students.
I remember very distinctly also his support of me when I was being confirmed at that time by the Senate to serve as Secretary of Labor. And it was a hard time for me, and he was one of those individuals, that alongside with other clergy, were very passionate and very, very much caring about the future of our country and who would be serving in these positions.
But I want to say something in Spanish if I can.
He was Irish.
Thank you very much, sheriff.
ROBERT LUNA: Thank you.
- Spanish over here.
ROBERT LUNA: Thank you all for covering this story. And let's not forget about our brothers and sisters at the archdiocese. We're used to going to services when we need their assistance, and today the tables are a little turned. So please make sure you embrace that and love them. Thank you very much.
- Thank you, sheriff.