LANCASTER ( — Thousands came out for a vigil Saturday night for Los Angeles County sheriff’s sergeant killed this week while responding to burglary call in Lancaster. Most people were from Lancaster but some were as far away as Oklahoma and attended because they were touched by what they heard in the news.

Sgt. Steve Owen was shot and killed Wednesday in the 3200 block of West Avenue J-7, after responding to a routine 911 call for a burglary.

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Owen was shot and killed as he encountered the suspected gunman at an apartment complex.

Owen, a decorated sergeant, worked at the Lancaster Sheriff Station for more than two decades. He was 53.

On Saturday, his family issued the following statement:

“To the residents of LA County and especially the Antelope Valley:

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“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.’ 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.

“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. Steve paid the ultimate sacrifice, but his passing is uniting this community.

“We have peace knowing he was a man of faith, and although his earthly body is gone his spirit is alive and thriving inside all of us. 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.

“We are sharing a couple of very personal photos to help tell the story of the kind of man our husband, dad, and son was; a true family and community protector. He had a huge heart for all things living and always put others before himself. The first photo is a family portrait taken at our wedding ceremony in October 1999. From left to right – Son Branden, now age 24; Wife Tania; Daughter Shannon, now age 22; Steve Owen; and Son Chadd, now age 27. The second photo, also taken at the wedding, captured Steve on one knee giving symbolic vows to his daughter Shannon, just before giving vows to her mother Tania. It was the kind of person he was, always thoughtful of others feelings and emotions before his own.

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“Thank you for all of the love and support, praise the Lord and God Bless the USA.”