LANCASTER – The community continues to mourn the loss of sheriff’s Sgt. Steve Owen, who was fatally shot while responding to a burglary call in Lancaster this week.
A memorial service for Owen is scheduled at 10 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 13, at Lancaster Baptist Church. The service — closed to the public — is for the department and Owen’s family, but it will be live-streamed online at live.lasd.org.
Officials cautioned residents to be aware of street closures Thursday morning in the area surrounding the service, beginning about 6:30 a.m.
A procession to the church will begin about 8 a.m., with the potential for “intermittent or full closures” on affected streets.
The procession will start on southbound Sierra Highway, south of Lancaster Boulevard, and continue as follows:
— southbound Sierra Highway to East Avenue L;
— eastbound East Avenue L to 30th Street East;
— northbound 30th Street East to East Avenue J;
— eastbound East Avenue J to 40th Street East; and
— northbound 40th Street East to East Lancaster Boulevard.
East Lancaster Boulevard, between 40th Street East and 50th Street East, also will be impacted. “Less significant” delays should be expected in the afternoon at the conclusion of the service. There will be no interment or graveside ceremony.
Owen, 53, a decorated 29-year sheriff’s department veteran who served as a sergeant in the Lancaster Station for the past five years, was killed at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 5, in the 3200 block of West Avenue J-7 where he had responded to a burglary report.
The suspected shooter, Trenton Trevon Lovell, 27, is a parolee now in custody and charged with capital murder, among other charges. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.
Sheriff Jim McDonnell alleged that Lovell shot Owen behind a residence after being confronted by the sergeant, who radioed that he had the suspect at gunpoint before he was shot.
“He (Lovell) then stood over and executed Sgt. Owen by firing four additional rounds into his body,” McDonnell said. “He then unsuccessfully searched the body for the sergeant’s weapon with the intent to use it to murder the first responding deputy.”
The first responding deputy fired numerous times at Lovell, who had pointed his weapon at him, striking the suspect once in the shoulder, the sheriff said.
Lovell allegedly jumped into Owen’s patrol vehicle while a second deputy arrived at the scene, then rammed the deputy’s vehicle with Owen’s car.
“Not only did the suspect want to kill our deputies, he held two teenagers hostage in a neighboring house until they were rescued by the heroic efforts of our Special Enforcement Bureau and our Lancaster Station personnel,” McDonnell said.
The two teens were held at knifepoint, according to prosecutors.
The gunman continued to try to escape and attempted to climb over a wall, but he was confronted by deputies and taken into custody, according to Deputy Juanita Navarro-Suarez, who added that a firearm was recovered at the scene.
Owen’s alleged killer has been arrested 11 times, first as a juvenile on suspicion of selling marijuana, and was jailed or imprisoned twice, according to the sheriff.
McDonnell said he believed the death penalty would be an appropriate sentence if Lovell is convicted of murdering Owen.
Owen’s wife, who is a sheriff’s arson-explosives detective, made it to the hospital before her husband died, according to sheriff’s Executive Officer Neal Tyler. One of Owen’s adult sons and his stepdaughter, as well his mother, also were at his bedside, Tyler said.
Owen’s death has sparked an outpouring of condolences and grief, with many in the Antelope Valley praising him for his service, conduct and community involvement, especially with area youths.
“We want to say thank you for everyone who has stood in support, prayed, written letters, shared stories and are continuing to grieve beside us in honor of our fallen hero,” according to the statement from the Owen family. “Steve paid the ultimate sacrifice, but his passing is uniting this community… He is seated with the Lord Almighty looking down on all of us now and continuing to ensure our safety. Rest assured, he will always be patrolling the streets of our community; you may not see him but he is there. He will be missed, but never forgotten.”
Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris announced Friday, Oct. 7, he will ask the city council to rename Lancaster Community Park as Sgt. Steve Owen Community Park.
“He deserves to always be remembered by the residents of the city of Lancaster and the Antelope Valley,” the mayor said. “Renaming our community park after a true hero is one small step in that direction. Steve was killed in the line of duty protecting a community in which he was deeply embedded. Sgt. Steve Owen was one of the best-known deputies throughout the entire Antelope Valley region.”
Mourners held a candlelight vigil late Saturday night closing off Lancaster Boulevard to vehicles between Sierra Highway and Cedar Avenue, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the city of Lancaster.
“We want to say thank you for the love and support you have shown our family as we mourn the loss of our husband, father, brother, uncle, son, and ultimately our hero, Sgt. Steve Owen,” Owen’s family said in a statement. “The continuous outpouring of encouragement, gratitude, and respect for him that has come from our community and across the nation has brought us the comfort and the strength needed to survive this tragedy… You all have truly touched our hearts.”
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