A veteran sheriff’s sergeant has died after being shot while responding to a residential burglary call, and a suspect was taken into custody after a nearly two-hour search that prompted a shelter-in-place order at Antelope Valley College.
In an afternoon news conference, authorities announced that 53-year-old Sgt. Steve Owen had died at the hospital.
“We lost a brave sergeant today,” sheriff’s Executive Officer Neal Tyler said.
The shooting occurred in the 3200 block of West Avenue J-7, according to Deputy Mike Barraza with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Lancaster Station.
Owen and a deputy responded in separate vehicles to a burglary call that came in a little after noon, according to sheriff’s homicide Capt. Steven Katz. The deputy heard gunfire come from the rear of the home, and ran around back to find Owen shot.
The shooter fled and the deputy ran after him to the front of the home, where the deputy fired at the suspect. The gunman jumped into Owen’s patrol vehicle, put it into reverse and rammed the deputy’s vehicle, Katz said. The deputy fired again.
The suspected shooter then got away on foot and went into another home, where two teens were home alone. They were able to contact law enforcement and say that the man was inside their house, Katz said.
The sheriff’s Special Enforcement Bureau responded, sending a special weapons team into the home. Authorities believed the teens’ lives were in danger, a bureau Capt. Jack Ewell said.
The suspected shooter exited the back of the home while the team got the teens out of the house. The suspect was then taken into custody by Lancaster Station deputies.
Aerial video from Sky5 showed a man lying down in the home’s backyard next to the pool, then coming around the side of the house, apparently on deputies’ commands, and being handcuffed next to the home’s garage.
Owen, meanwhile, was taken to Antelope Valley Hospital. It’s not yet known if he returned fire, Katz said.
Owen’s wife, a sheriff’s arson/explosives detective, was able to get the hospital before he died, Tyler said. His adult children, as well as his mother, were also able to get to the hospital.
“This has been a very dark day for the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department,” Katz said. “It doesn’t get worse than this, folks.”
Owen had been a sergeant with the Lancaster Station for five years, Tyler said. He has been with the department for 29 years.
“Steve was very important to the Antelope Valley community. He’d worked here a long time as a deputy before he was promoted five years ago,” Tyler said. “He’s extremely popular with everyone up here because he goes above and beyond.”
Owen was given a Valor Award by then-Sheriff John Scott in 2014, according to a department news release.
He is survived by his wife Tania, adult sons Brandon and Chad, stepdaughter Shannon and mother Millie, according to a statement from Sheriff Jim McDonnell.
“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,” McDonnell said.
On Wednesday, the sergeant was shot in the face, Lancaster’s mayor told the Los Angeles Times, which reported the sergeant and a deputy were responding to a burglary call.
The suspect, who was hospitalized for a gunshot wound to the upper torso, is on “active parole” and is believed to be from the general Antelope Valley area, Katz said.
A weapon was recovered, the homicide captain said.
Authorities are not searching for anyone else in connection with the shooting, he said.
Students at Antelope Valley College took to Twitter to report hearing gunshots in the noon hour.
Just after 1 p.m., the college warned people on campus to shelter in place or avoid the area due to an “armed suspect in vicinity.”
At one point, officials reported that both a sergeant and a deputy were shot, but that information was later corrected. The deputy was wounded and hospitalized, but he was not shot, Katz said.
KTLA’s Jennifer Thang contributed to this article.
The tragedy of Sgt Steve Owen making the ultimate sacrifice has a massive impact on LE family. We mourn & our hearts go out to his family pic.twitter.com/ULGCeq8woJ
— Jim McDonnell (@LACoSheriff32) October 6, 2016