LANCASTER (CBSLA.com) — As Sgt. Steve Owen’s procession wound its way through Lancaster, hearts were heavy. Touching images tell the story of a community in mourning over a sergeant’s killing. New details reveal the brutality of Owen’s death and a harrowing hour-plus for two teens taken hostage by the man suspected in the shooting.
“He touched so many people in this valley,” Brandie Burton said. “That’s why we’re all here tonight, to show his family that we love them – even if we haven’t met them, we love them and we’re here for them.”
Owen was shot in a Lancaster neighborhood Wednesday as he confronted a burglary suspect. Late Thursday, Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell released disturbing details about what happened when Owen came face to face with his killer.
“The suspect then immediately shot Sgt. Owen,” McDonnell said. “He then stood over him and executed Sgt. Owen by firing four additional rounds into his body.”
The man suspected in Owen’s killing was identified as Trenton Lovell, 29. The sheriff says after Lovell shot Owen, he tried to steal his squad car and got into a shootout with another deputy. Lovell was hit but managed to get away, breaking into a home with two teenagers inside. He held the teens hostage for more than an hour.
During his press conference, McDonnell called the killing a “calculated execution” and said the death penalty would be appropriate in this case.
McDonnell described the 29-year-veteran as the “go-to guy” and a “role model” and then praised his fallen sergeant further.
“This is an individual who no matter who you talk to in the community, was a larger-than-life person,” McDonnell said. “He’s not somebody that would be swayed by political correctness, and he would do the right thing.”
The sheriff said Lovell also planned to kill the two teenagers as well as the first deputy to respond.
“They’re OK. I have counseling set up for them, and it’ll be alright,” said Sara Arrowsmith, mother of the teens.
Arrowsmith said her teen son found a way to text her while Lovell was holding them hostage.
“My daughter actually faked a panic attack and my son said ‘I have to go upstairs and get her medicine’ and I guess he befriended the suspect a little bit and my son got away for long enough to text me and said, ‘He’s in the house.’ ”
The sheriff said Lovell bolted when he heard the SWAT team getting close. When he was arrested, investigators realized Lovell was no stranger to the law. He is a parolee with a lengthy record that includes robbery, resisting arrest and a DUI charge, authorities said.
McDonnell says the California criminal justice system needs a closer look.
“We’ve been dealing with the impacts of AB109, the realignment and then followed up by Prop 47, which was designed to get people into treatment rather than incarceration, but funded nobody to go into treatment essentially and didn’t incarcerate them so they’re in the communities reoffending.”