UPDATE: The man accused of shooting Sgt. Steve Owen has been identified as 27-year-old Trenton Trevon Lovell.
Lovell has been charged with capital murder, attempted murder of the second responding sheriff’s deputy, as well as being a felon in possession of a gun, and two counts each of first-degree residential robbery and false imprisonment.
On Wednesday, a county-wide outpouring of grief and gratitude followed the news of the murder of Sergeant Steven Owen of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Just after 12:00p.m. on Wednesday, Sgt. Owen was shot in the face while responding to a call about a residential burglary taking place in Lancaster.
Sgt. Owen, 53, was the first of two responders to make it to the home, which was in the 3200 block of W. Avenue J-7. Owen moved to the rear of the residence in order to try to contain the suspected burglar, identified as a local parolee.
The man reportedly then confronted Owen and opened fire, shooting him in the face. The second responding deputy ran from the front of the house to the back after hearing the gunshots. According to the sheriff’s department, the suspect then hopped in Owen’s patrol car and slammed it into the second deputy’s vehicle, at which point the deputy fired at and hit the suspect in the upper torso. Despite suffering a gunshot wound, the man was able to escape on foot.
The shooter was ultimately captured by deputies after he broke into another home—this one occupied by two teenagers. As the man exited the second house, the sheriff’s department’s Special Enforcement Bureau used less than lethal devices to keep him from re-entering the home, and the teens were then rescued. The suspect was taken into custody by deputies from the Lancaster station. Officers reportedly recovered a weapon at the scene.
Owen was taken to the hospital, where he later died from his wounds. Owen’s wife, sons, and mom were able to be with him in the hospital when he died.
Owen’s death was a shocking blow to the sheriff’s department and the community he served for 29 years before being killed in the line of duty.
“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,” said LASD Sheriff Jim McDonnell. “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.”
Owen was well-respected by those he worked with and went “above and beyond with respect to youth activities and community involvement,” according to LASD Executive Officer Neal Tyler who characterized the horrific shooting as “the thing we all dread.”
Many of Owen’s fellow law enforcement officers expressed deep sorrow over his death. “Steve was a 29-year vet still working out on the street,” a retired sheriff’s department member who worked with Owen told WitnessLA. “Most folks with that amount of time aren’t suiting up anymore. It’s a testament to him and the quality of man he was.”
Owen received a Meritorious Conduct Medal for his role in safely rescuing a man who was being held hostage by an armed suspect wearing a bulletproof vest, without use of lethal force.
The sergeant was also one of three sheriff’s department members who, last July, found and rescued a 13-month-old girl who had been left alone in a shed by a pimp who had allegedly abducted the baby from a woman whom he had reportedly been abusing and commercially exploiting.
“Emotions are very high within the LASD,” said another source close to the department, who also noted that the sergeant was “only a couple of years from retirement.”
“All of our ALADS members will be grieving the loss of Sergeant Owen who was well respected by his colleagues,” the Association of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs said in a statement. “Los Angeles County deputy sheriffs put their lives at risk every time they put on the uniform. This horrible tragedy is another reminder of the dangers and sacrifice law enforcement personnel face protecting the county’s citizens and businesses.”
The Professional Peace Officers Association (PPOA), the union to which Owen belonged as a department supervisor, also sent out a statement of grief and remembrance. “Sheriff’s Sergeant Steve Owen represented the best among us,” wrote PPOA President Brian Moriguchi. “He loved helping others and made the Antelope Valley a better place to live. Steve risked his life every day to make the community safer.”
California Governor Jerry Brown announced that the state capitol’s flags would be flown at half-staff.
LA County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, who knew Sgt. Owen, called him an “outstanding law enforcement professional,” and said that the loss of Owen “leaves a significant void” for everyone who knew him.
“Steve was one of the bravest, hardest working street cops I’ve ever met,” the department retiree told WLA. “He was an LASD legend.”