Mon­u­ment hon­ors fallen deputy

Antelope Valley Press - - FRONT PAGE - By JULIE DRAKE Val­ley Press Staff Writer

LAN­CASTER — The Sgt. Steve Owen Me­mo­rial at Sgt. Steve Owen Me­mo­rial Park is a tes­ta­ment to the late Los An­ge­les County Sher­iff’s De­part­ment sergeant’s life.

The me­mo­rial is in the cen­ter of the park, north­west of the chil­dren’s play area. The rid­er­less horse with the boots placed back­ward in the stir­rups is in­tended to sym­bol­ize the rider look­ing back to­ward the liv­ing one last time, be­fore rid­ing into the great be­yond. The four mono­liths sur­round­ing the mon­u­ment are fab­ri­cated from stain­less steel, hard to shape and rough on the edges, like life can of­ten be. They rep­re­sent four cor­ner­stones in Sgt. Owen’s life: Com­mu­nity, faith, fam­ily and courage.

The horse is placed fac­ing west into the sun­set with his head turned slightly to the right, look­ing north­west to­ward 30th Street West and Av­enue K, where, on Oct. 5, 2016, Sgt. Owen was fa­tally shot in the line of duty.

Owen was a 29-year Los An­ge­les County Sher­iff’s De­part­ment vet­eran. He spent 24 years work­ing in the An­te­lope Val­ley as a pa­trol deputy, gang de­tec­tive, school li­ai­son deputy and a de­tec­tive at the Palm­dale Sher­iff’s Sta­tion, be­fore be­ing pro­moted to sergeant and work­ing with Lan­caster Sher­iff’s Sta­tion deputies on pa­trol and with Lan­caster’s anti-bur­glary unit.

An ac­com­plished horse­man, he also was a mem­ber of the Sher­iff’s De­part­ment mounted unit.

On Mon­day af­ter­noon, Mayor R. Rex Par­ris, Su­per­vi­sor Kathryn Barger, Sher­iff Alex Vil­lanueva, Owen’s widow, Ta­nia Owen, mem­bers of the Owen fam­ily and oth­ers, marked the of­fi­cial ded­i­ca­tion and un­veil­ing of the me­mo­rial.

“You can’t imag­ine how dif­fi­cult it is to lose a loved one, es­pe­cially in the line of duty,” Ta­nia Owen said. “The sup­port of the Sher­iff’s De­part­ment, in par­tic­u­lar, my fam­ily, the Lan­caster Sher­iff’s Sta­tion and the com­mu­nity, have helped my fam­ily and I through a very dif­fi­cult time. Some­thing we thought about as a fam­ily is, ‘Will Steve be for­got­ten and what will his legacy be?’ Well, events like these as­sure us that he isn’t for­got­ten and the com­mu­nity still re­mem­bers who he was and what he did for our com­mu­nity, how many hearts he touched, friends he made and so we know that his legacy will con­tin

ue to live on.”

Ta­nia Owen, a re­tired sher­iff’s de­tec­tive, added the tremen­dous loss brought the fam­ily closer to God.

Par­ris said Oct. 5, 2016 was the worst day of his life as a mayor, as well as the worst day in a lot of peo­ple’s lives.

“When some­thing like this hap­pens, we learn more about some­body …,” he said. “The thing I came away with, with Steve, he wasn’t just a deputy. He wasn’t just a po­lice of­fi­cer. He was a man who ev­ery sin­gle day, seemed to try to be a bet­ter man … a bet­ter hus­band. He was some­body who worked at it ev­ery sin­gle day. It’s so fit­ting that we do this. It’s some­thing that if we can have kids learn that story, that’s re­ally what it’s about … try­ing to be bet­ter at those things.”

Par­ris cred­ited Barger for help­ing to make the me­mo­rial a re­al­ity.

“She made the money ap­pear,” Par­ris said. “And she didn’t hes­i­tate. She was there with us from the be­gin­ning to now.”

Barger said she was told Steve Owen would prob­a­bly not want all of the at­ten­tion.

“He re­ally didn’t do it for the ac­co­lades be­cause it truly was his pas­sion and was in his heart to do what’s right,” she said. “But I can’t think of any­one more de­serv­ing to be re­mem­bered by the com­mu­nity be­cause he served so many in the com­mu­nity.”

Barger added Steve Owen’s death deeply rat­tled the com­mu­nity.

“Sgt. Owen was a cop’s cop, a man of faith, and a hero,” she said. “He was the go-to guy who could trust to fix any prob­lem. When he wasn’t at work, he was a de­voted and lov­ing fa­ther to Chadd, Branden and Shan­non and a hus­band to Ta­nia, who, her­self, spent a ca­reer as a sher­iff’s deputy and a de­tec­tive.”

About two years be­fore his mur­der, Steve Owen was hon­ored with the Mer­i­to­ri­ous Con­duct Medal for his role in res­cu­ing a car­jack­ing vic­tim held at gun­point.

“Sgt. Owen and the deputies he led dis­armed a car­jacker and sub­dued him with­out fir­ing a shot,” Barger said.

Vil­lanueva said Steve Owen spent his en­tire life do­ing things the right way.

Stu­dents from the Learn4Life Char­ter School con­trib­uted to the me­mo­rial de­sign. Art Thomp­son of A2ZFX Inc. and Sage Cheshire Aero­space built the me­mo­rial. He ex­plained the sig­nif­i­cance of the mon­u­ment and the four cor­ner­stones, com­mu­nity, faith, fam­ily and courage.

“The horse ac­tu­ally look­ing through courage to­ward 30th and K, so there’s some sym­bol­ism there as well,” Thomp­son said.

He said the mon­u­ment came to­gether through the ef­fort of many peo­ple in the com­mu­nity, in­clud­ing Mark Nor­ris and JP Tone­man,

“We cre­ated the mon­u­ments, a lot of pieces at our shop at A2ZFX and Sage Cheshire, but it’s re­ally a con­tri­bu­tion of so many peo­ple in our com­mu­nity that came to­gether to make this hap­pen. It will stand for­ever as mon­u­ment to the fam­ily,” Thomp­son said.

PHOTO BY DIANDRA JAY/BOARD OF SU­PER­VI­SORS

The City of Lan­caster held the un­veil­ing and ded­i­ca­tion cer­e­mony for the Sgt. Steve Owen Me­mo­rial at Sgt. Steve Owen Me­mo­rial Park Mon­day evening.

PHOTO BY DIANDRA JAY/BOARD OF SU­PER­VI­SORS

City of­fi­cials un­veiled the Sgt. Steve Owen Me­mo­rial at Sgt. Steve Owen Me­mo­rial Park Mon­day evening.

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