The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s sergeant gunned down October 5 was a father and husband who was a previous recipient of his department’s Medal of Valor and was remembered as a “cop’s cop” who “loved police work.”
The deceased sergeant was identified as a veteran of the force, Steve Owen. Commander Mike Parker, of the Sheriff’s Department, called Owen “One of bravest, hardest working cops I know” in a Twitter post.
A caravan escorted Owen’s body to the morgue just hours after his death in a moving procession lined by saluting law enforcement colleagues and flag bearing members of the public.
Owen died after responding to a burglary scene and being shot by a suspect who was taken into custody but hasn’t been identified.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Owen Won the Department’s Medal of Valor Just Two Years Ago
According to Los Angeles Patch, Owen was awarded the Sheriff’s Department’s Medal of Valor in 2014 for “his role in arresting a series of armed gang members in a pursuit and standoff situation.” Patch said he is the 95th law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty in 2016 through October 5.
CNN said Owen “helped arrest a man who used a driver as human shield while trying to elude officers who had been pursuing him on another matter.”
CBS Los Angeles said LA County Supervisor Mike Antonovich issued a statement calling Owen “an outstanding law enforcement professional who I had the opportunity to know and work with. He was a husband and father who was respected by his colleagues and engaged in his community.”
Antonovich added, according to CBS LA: “He was senselessly murdered while responding to a call for help. His loss leaves a significant void for all those who knew him.”
Exemplifying Owen’s devotion to law enforcement and the community, a 2015 tweet from the Sheriff’s Department said, “Re: Amber Alert baby found-Sgt Owen shared that he didnt plan 2 leave work until the baby was found.”
2. Owen’s Wife Works for the Department’s Arson Explosive Unit
According to KTLA, “Owen’s wife, a sheriff’s arson/explosives detective, was able to get the hospital before Owen died.”
Owen, who was 53 and had worked on the Sheriff’s Department for 29 years, also had an adult son and daughter, who, along with his mother, made it to the hospital before he died, said the television station. Owen also had a stepchild with his wife, Tania.
The sheriff wrote in a statement, “The tragedy of a deputy sheriff such as Sergeant Steve Owen making the ultimate sacrifice has a massive impact on the whole law enforcement family. We all mourn together and our hearts go out especially to Steve’s immediate family Tania, a detective at Arson/Explosives Detail, his two adult sons Brandon and Chad, a step-daughter Shannon and his mother Millie.”
In a heartwrenching Facebook post, a family member wrote, directing comments to the suspect: “The man that you chose to kill today in cold blood, was a decorated officer in a community that he chose to protect for 29 years. He was a loving husband, father and stepfather. He never had a chance to retire, to kick back and enjoy all of the things that he deserved. He was a loving stepfather to our niece Shannon Owen. He loved her, nurtured her and protected her for the past 20 years. My heart aches…where did my America go? Myself along with so many others no longer feel safe. Where are the answers? We love you shannon and are all here praying for you, your mom and your brothers.”
Owen had been assigned to the Lancaster station for five years, according to Patch.
3. Owen Was Responding to a Home Burglary Call When Shot & Officers Saluted His Body During a Moving Procession
Deputies lined up and saluted his body as Owen was placed into a coroner’s vehicle. A man named Richard Loa echoed the sentiments of many in the community when he wrote on Facebook: “I knew Steve very well, he was a very good and honest man and will be missed by many within our community.”
People also lined the streets waiting for the procession with his body.
Owen was hailed as a hero.
Owen was shot and killed “while responding to a residential burglary call,” said KTLA.
CNN reported that Owen “was searching the rear of the home when his partner heard gunshots and discovered that Owen had been hit,” adding that the suspect ran into a nearby home, where two teens hid from him. He was shot and taken to the hospital when he tried to escape from the back of the home as police surrounded it, said CNN.
NBCLA said the shooting occurred as deputies responded to a report of a burglary in Lancaster, a community located about an hour north of Los Angeles.
4. Owen Was a Football Coach & Youth Mentor
The Los Angeles Times reported that Owen “volunteered as a football coach and youth mentor. He also taught landlords and business owners how to reduce crime on their properties.”
People created the hashtag #SteveOwen on Twitter.
The Times said Owen mentored other deputies as well, preferred the streets to promotion, and was considered genuine and well-liked in the area.
At least 200 people attended a vigil for Owen on the evening of October 5 and lit candles in his memory.
Many in the community knew Owen and were upset about his death.
KTLA reports that the 1 1/2-hour search for the suspect “prompted a shelter-in-place order at Antelope Valley College.”
The college said on its website, “Armed Suspect in vicinity of AVC Lancaster Campus. Shelter in Place and await further instruction. Visit avc.edu for further instruction. Avoid the area due to heavy law enforcement presence.” The shelter in place order was later lifted.
5. A Patrol Car Windshield Was Riddled With Bullet Holes
NBC LA reported that “aerial video showed what appeared to be at least six bullet holes in the windshield of a patrol car. The car also appeared to have damage to its passenger side door.”
On Thursday, October 6, the United States lost another law enforcement officer to gunfire when Blake Snyder was killed when responding to a disturbance call in St. Louis County. Read about Snyder here: