A suspect is in custody after a Los Angeles County sheriff's sergeant was fatally shot Wednesday while responding to a burglary call, authorities said.
Steve Owen's wife, an arsons explosives detective, and two adult children were able to see him in the hospital before he succumbed to his injuries, sheriff's Executive Officer Neal Tyler said.
"This has been a very dark day for the LA County Sheriff's Department," Capt. Steve Katz said.
"We're all suffering now. His family certainly is suffering, his law enforcement family is suffering. It doesn't get worse than this," Katz said.
Owen, a 29-year department veteran, was awarded a medal of valor in 2014, the department's highest honor. He helped arrest a man who used a driver as human shield while trying to elude officers who had been pursuing him on another matter.
"Somebody has to go when somebody calls for help. In this case, Steve went and got there first," Tyler said of Wednesday's incident. "He was shot for his efforts and made the ultimate sacrifice."
The 53-year-old responded to a residential burglary call shortly after noon in Lancaster, a city in northern Los Angeles County in the Antelope Valley of the western Mojave Desert.
Owen was searching the rear of the home when his partner heard gunshots and discovered that Owen had been hit, Katz said.
The suspect fled and tried to get away in Owen's car. He ended up rear-ending another police vehicle and took off on foot.
He sought refuge in a nearby home. Two teens in the home hid from him and called police, Capt. Jack Ewell said.
As a special weapons team entered the home, the suspect tried to flee out the back, officials said. He was shot in the torso and arrested and brought to a hospital for treatment, Ewell said.
Authorities declined to identify the suspect.
"Steve was doing what many, many, many deputies and police officers countywide and nationwide are going to be doing today and tonight," Tyler said.
"I hope you keep a thought in your mind about those individuals as well as Steve, because Steve would want it that way."