A sergeant executed by a parolee during a burglary was the "epitome of what it means to be a peace officer," Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell said on Thursday.
Sgt. Steve Owen, 53, was killed Wednesday in Lancaster. The suspected gunman, identified as Trenton Trevon Lovell, 27, first wounded the lawman and then executed him with four additional shots once he was down, McDonnell said during a Thursday afternoon news conference.
"If we could portray somebody to our academy recruits that if you want to do the job as well as it could be done this is the individual you need to look to," McDonnell said. "He walked the talk."
Top news of the day
Owen's mother, adult son and daughter and his wife, who is a detective in the Sheriff Department's Arson/Explosives Detail, were at his bedside when he died, according to the sheriff's department. Owen, who also is survived by another adult son, was a 29-year decorated veteran, authorities said.
The suspect was taken into custody after a manhunt and foot chase through a Lancaster neighborhood. He was hospitalized for treatment of a gunshot wound, investigators said.
Owen was shot in the backyard around 12:30 p.m. after he answered a report of a burglary in progress at an apartment building on West Avenue J-7. He was shot in the face with a large-caliber bullet that fragmented, said Mayor R. Rex Parris, who knew Owen for 10 years.
"I just left 100 officers crying," Parris said Wednesday. "It's indescribable seeing that many sheriff's deputies in tears."
Investigators said another deputy in front heard gunfire, ran around the building and found Owen wounded. It wasn't immediately clear whether Owen managed to shoot back, sheriff's homicide Capt. Steven Katz said.
The suspect was arrested after getting into Owen's patrol car, ramming a second police vehicle, then hiding in a home as two teenagers cowered, authorities said. He was shot at twice, once as he tried to take the patrol car and again as he backed up and rammed a second patrol car, Katz said.
As deputies sealed off the neighborhood, the suspect ran to a house where a teenage boy and girl managed to hide and use a cellphone to text sheriff's deputies, authorities said. SWAT members entered the home to rescue the pair and the suspected gunman fled out the back door and was captured after climbing over a wall, officials said.