Who Was Steve Owen? The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Sergeant Will Be Remembered For His Service

A 29-year veteran of the police force, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Sergeant Steve Owen died Wednesday after he was shot by a gunman in Lancaster. Owen had been responding to a call about a residential burglary when the suspect suddenly shot him and attempted to drive off in Owen's police cruiser, according to The Los Angeles Times. The gunman was eventually taken into custody after he entered a private residence whose occupants informed law enforcement of his location. Owen was rushed to the hospital, where his family had a chance to see him before he passed away.

Owen's death was a blow to many in his community. Executive Officer Neal Tyler described Owen, 53, as "extremely popular with everyone" for his involvement in community and youth activities, ABC reported. In addition, there were at least 100 deputies at the hospital, all of whom Owen knew on a first-name basis, Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris told The Los Angeles Times. "The Antelope Valley has lost a true hero today,” Parris said.

Parris also described the sergeant as "so brave." A group of sheriff's deputies, including Owen, was awarded with valor medals, the department's highest honor, in 2014 for saving a hostage being held at gunpoint in a car. The medals are awarded to "department members who perform acts of great bravery or heroism, above and beyond the call of duty, to save the lives of others while placing their own lives at risk," according to a department news release.

Owen devised a strategy to release the hostage while bringing the suspect, who was wearing a bulletproof vest, in alive, The Los Angeles Times reported. Instead of firing at the suspect, which would have put the hostage at risk, Owen directed a deputy to use a Taser instead. This allowed the hostage to break free of the suspect and leave the car, and another deputy quickly incapacitated the suspect with another Taser.

"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," Sheriff Jim McDonnell said.

The sergeant had been working at the sheriff's department's Lancaster station for the past five years, and his wife Tania is a detective in the department's Arson/Explosives Detail, according to McDonnell. Owen is survived by Tania, his mother Millie, his sons Brandon and Chad, and his stepdaughter Shannon, all of whom managed to see him at the hospital before he died.