A sergeant with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department was shot and killed while responding to a burglary call around noon Wednesday, and an entire community is grieving.
Steve Owen, 53, was a 29-year veteran of the Sheriff’s department. He and another deputy had responded to a call about a burglary at an apartment building in Lancaster. Owen went to cover the back of the building, when gunman shot him, then stood over his body and pumped four more bullets into him, in what Sheriff Jim McDonnell called a calculated execution.
The deputy heard the shots and came running from the front of the complex. The gunman, identified as Trenton Trevon Lovell, 27, pointed a gun at the deputy, who shot him in the shoulder. That still didn’t stop him.
Lovell took off running back to the front of the building and tried to steal Owen’s patrol car. He put it into reverse and rammed the second patrol vehicle behind it.
Then he ran into another home where two teens were inside. SWAT officers were able to rescue the teens out of the home, forcing Lovell to run out the back, where they arrested him. Police recovered a stolen gun from him.
ABC7 News said Owens was a Meritorious Conduct Medal Gold recipient, and his wife also works for the sheriff’s department as an arson’s explosives unit detective. He was taken to the hospital, where his wife, adult children and mother were able to see him before he died.
Hundreds of people stood on an overpass draped with U.S. flags as the hearse escorting Owens’ body from a morgue in Los Angeles back to Lancaster passed by.
Reporting for ABC News, Leo Stallworth shared details about the shooting, then said that Owens was a friend of his, and became emotional, unable to finish.
Fox News reported that Lovell has a long criminal record, having been arrested a dozen times, and has already served two state prison sentences.
At a news conference, Sheriff McDonnell was asked whether Owens may have chosen not to use his gun on the suspect to avoid potential backlash?
“There was only the two of them there initially, so I don’t know that we’ll ever be able to answer what happened in that split-second,” McDonnell said. However, he said the killer may have been able to draw a gun surreptitiously while the sergeant had his own gun out and was requesting backup.
McDonnell rejected any suggestion that Lovell, who is black, may have shot in self-defense — a question apparently prompted by controversy over recent shootings of young black men in police confrontations.
“This is an individual that was certainly the aggressor, somebody who is truly a predator, and not somebody who was defending himself in any manner,” McDonnell said.