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Editor’s note: This story is developing and will be updated as new information is released.

LOS ANGELES (LifeSiteNews) — A Catholic bishop was fatally shot in Los Angeles on Saturday. The police are reportedly treating the incident as a murder investigation. 

Bishop David O’Connell, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, was found dead shortly before 1 p.m. in a home in the 1500 block of Janlu Avenue in Hacienda Heights, according to local media reports. O’Connell was frequently involved in the pro-life movement, repeatedly leading prayers vigils and processions in front of Planned Parenthood abortion mills in California.  

The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement that “[t]his incident is being handled as a murder investigation,” the Los Angeles Times reported. “There is no additional information available at this time,” the law enforcement agency added. 

“I am very sad this afternoon to report that our beloved Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell has passed away unexpectedly,” the Archbishop of L.A. José H. Gomez wrote in his initial statement on the death of O’Connell. “It is a shock and I have no words to express my sadness.” 

“As a priest and later a bishop here in Los Angeles for forty-five years, Bishop Dave was a man of deep prayer who had a great love for Our Blessed Mother,” Gomez stated, adding that O’Connell “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.” 

“Please join me in praying for Bishop Dave and for his family in Ireland. 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.” 

In a second statement on Sunday, February 19, Gomez wrote that they “learned early this morning from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s office that they have determined that the death of Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell yesterday was a homicide.” 

The L.A. Times reported that “about a dozen” people gathered near the house where O’Connell was shot at around 9 p.m. on Saturday, reciting the rosary, and praying for the deceased bishop and his family. 

Bishop Robert Barron, who also served as auxiliary bishop in Los Angeles before being named the bishop of Winona-Rochester in Minnesota, reacted to the news of his fellow bishop’s death on Twitter. 

“I received last night the devastating news that my dear friend, Bishop David O’Connell, has died,” Barron wrote. “Bishop Dave and I were ordained auxiliary bishops for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles seven years ago.” 

“He dedicated his priesthood to serving the poor. I can honestly say that he was one of the most Christ-like men I’ve known. May he rest in peace.” 

Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, also reacted to O’Connell’s untimely death: “So very sad and shocking. May he rest in peace.” 

O’Connell, who was born in Ireland in 1953, was known for his to ministering to L.A. communities afflicted by poverty, broken families, and gang violence. He was the head of the Southern California Immigration Task Force, which helps coordinate the Church’s response to the influx of Central American migrants in the recent past.

The deceased prelate furthermore served as the chairman of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops’ Subcommittee on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. 

LifeSiteNews encourages all readers to pray for the repose of the soul of Bishop David G. O’Connell.