After being called to a residential burglary in Lancaster, California on Wednesday, L.A. County sheriff's sergeant Steve Owen was killed in the line of duty. Owen, who had been with the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department for 29 years, responded to a call with his partner and was shot in the face while he was checking out the back of the building. Owen's partner was at the front of the residential building on the 3200 block of West Avenue J-7, and ran to the back of the building when he heard the shots. Owen was rushed to the hospital in a a sheriff's vehicle and died hours later, according to LASD Capt. Steve Katz.
While all of this happened, the gunman took off and tried to steal Owen's car. Another deputy arrived and opened fire on the suspect while he was in the car. The gunman put the cruiser in reverse and hit another sheriff's car, injuring a deputy inside. The gunman then took off on foot and ran into a neighboring house. Luckily, there were two teens inside who (thank goodness for young people and their cell phone savvy) were able to call the authorities.
Over an hour later, around 2 p.m., SWAT deputies entered the home and chased the gunman. He was caught while trying to hop a fence, according to Katz. The gunman's identity hasn't been released, but he is from Antelope Valley in California and on parole. According to officials, he was injured in the torso by gunfire during the chase but is in custody.
Owen's wife, who is part of the LASD Arson Explosive Unit, his two children, and mother were able to get to the hospital before the sergeant died, according to sheriff’s Executive Officer Neal Tyler. There were also about 100 sheriff's deputies at the hospital and according to Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris, Owen knew them all by name.
“We forget how dangerous this job is. Steve was so brave. The Antelope Valley has lost a true hero today," the mayor said. Owen was part of a team that was awarded a medal of valor in 2014 for saving a hostage in a car. Owen had decided that shooting the suspect then wasn't safe for the victim and directed a colleague to use a Taser on the suspect. The hostage was able to quickly flee in the moment the suspect was shocked and incapacitated. Owen was also involved in community and youth outreach.
Tyler reminded the public that Owen "was doing what many, many, many deputies and police officers countrywide, nationwide are going to be doing today and tonight."
The investigation into his death is still ongoing.