The suspect in the slaying of Catholic Bishop David O’Connell claimed the clergyman owed him money and acted “irrational” around the time of the shocking murder, according to police.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna alleged in a Monday press conference that 65-year-old handyman Carlos Medina shot and killed the bishop inside his Hacienda Heights home Saturday.
Medina was arrested by authorities after he originally refused to leave his Torrance home earlier Monday, Luna said.
The alleged killer’s wife was O’Connell’s housekeeper, and Medina also did housework for the slain bishop at times, Luna said.
“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,” Luna revealed.
But Luna cautioned it’s not clear if the motive for the slaying was tied to a specific dispute over cash and is only a tip authorities have received.
“I am not certain of any dispute,” Luna said. “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.”
The bishop was pronounced dead inside the bedroom of his home with at least one gunshot wound to the upper body, Luna said.
O’Connell’s body was discovered after a deacon went to the victim’s house to check on him because he was late to a meeting, Luna said. After the deacon called 911, investigators responded.
The suspect’s wife was not working the day of the murder, and investigators said she has been cooperating with them, Luna said.
Medina’s neighbors told The Post that Medina’s wife has worked with the bishop for over a decade.
Luna added that a vehicle spotted in O’Connell’s driveway on surveillance footage on the same day of the murder is similar to the SUV Medina had driven to O’Connell’s in the past. Luna said it appears there were no signs of forced entry at the home.
Two firearms and other evidence possibly linking Medina to the gruesome crime were collected following his arrest, Luna said. The guns will be tested to see if either is the murder weapon, he added.
“I can’t tell you how many phone calls I 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,” Luna said. “He was loved.”