LOS ANGELES, CA – A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s sergeant was a victim of a parolee who initially shot and wounded him then executed him by firing four additional rounds into his body, according to Sheriff Jim McDonnell.
Sgt. Steven Owen, 53, was shot by a gunman carrying a stolen gun reported for burglary in progress at an apartment building in Lancaster.
Owen responded to the report and went behind the building where the gunman, Trenton Trevon Lovell, 27, shot him then stood over him and pumped more bullets into his body, as he lay wounded, McDonnell said at a news conference.
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Mc Donnell said that after shooting Owen, Lovell searched the body for the sergeant’s weapon with the “intent to use it to murder the first responder deputy,” but he was unsuccessful.
He allegedly pointed a gun at a deputy who then shot him numerous times and hit him in the shoulder. Lovell still managed to steal Owen’s patrol car and rammed another patrol vehicle.
He ran into a neighboring house and held two teenagers as hostages who were later rescued by the SWAT team.
Lovell has been arrested in a surrounding neighborhood, was treated for his wound and being held in jail without bail.
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Lovell has been arrested a dozen times, including one on suspicion of selling marijuana when he was a juvenile before graduating to more serious offenses. He has also served two state prison sentences, McDonnell said.
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.
Lovell was on parole following a 2009 conviction and six-year prison sentence for robbing a USC community safety officer at gunpoint. McDonnell said he had been classified as a “moderate risk.”
When McDonnell was asked whether the sergeant, a 29-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Department, may have tried to avoid shooting the suspect, possibly deciding not to use his own gun, he said: “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.” He added that the killer may have been able to draw a gun surreptitiously while the sergeant had his own gun out and was requesting backup.
“This was a calculated execution,” McDonnell said.
Lovell was described by his neighbor as somebody who had a bad temper and had several confrontations with them. He had been staying with his sister sometimes in the apartment complex where the burglary was reported.
Lovell’s family was devastated by the shooting according to his mother who said she was praying for the sergeant’s family and was still concerned about her son. “He’s still my son, and I love him regardless,” she added.
When Sergeant Owen’s body was escorted from a morgue in Los Angeles back to Lancaster, hundreds of people stood on an overpass draped with U.S. flags to watch as the hearse passed. At that time, a news conference was also being held.
At the news conference, Sheriff Jim McDonnell referred to Sgt. Steve Owen as a hero and a man worth remembering. “He is an individual who, no matter who you talk to in the department, no matter who you talk to in the community, was a larger than life person.”
“They are saying that on their worst day, he helped them believe that tomorrow would be a better one,” McDonnell said.
In 2014, Owen was one of the several deputies from the Lancaster station who received Sheriff’s Department medals for meritorious conduct after they captured a gunman in a bulletproof vest who had taken a driver hostage and used him as a human shield after a police chase.
The sheriff further described him as “somebody who look for opportunities to make someone else’s day better than it was when he interacted with them.”
He added, “He was somebody who’s an epitome of what it means to be a peace officer.”