A parolee accused of shooting a Lancaster sheriff’s sergeant in the head as he responded to a burglary call, then pumping four additional shots into the veteran lawman once he was down, is due in a downtown courtroom Tuesday for a preliminary hearing on a capital murder charge.
Trenton Trevon Lovell, 28, of Lancaster, is also facing special circumstance allegations of murder of a peace officer in the performance of his duties and murder for the purpose of avoiding or preventing a lawful arrest in the Oct. 5, 2016, killing of Sgt. Steve Owen. Prosecutors will determine later whether to seek the death penalty.
The preliminary hearing is set to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to proceed to trial on the counts, which also include one count each of attempted murder involving another sheriff’s deputy and possession of a firearm by a felon and two counts each of first-degree residential robbery and false imprisonment by violence. The latter charge includes a knife use allegation.
The attempted murder charge includes an allegation that Lovell used a patrol car as a deadly and dangerous weapon against a second sheriff’s deputy who arrived at the scene.
The criminal complaint also alleges that Lovell was on parole at the time of the crime and that he had been convicted of robbery as a juvenile in 2006 and again as an adult in 2009, according to Deputy District Attorney Michael Blake.
Owen, 53, was shot to death as he responded to a young mother’s 911 call reporting a burglary at her home in the 3200 block of West Avenue J-7.
Lovell shattered a rear sliding door to break into the two-story home. The family called police and checked downstairs to find that the robber had already left.
Owen chased Lovell, who headed for another residence on West Avenue J-7 where he lived with his sister. As Lovell neared the front door, Owen told him to “freeze,” Lovell told investigators, according to a report by the District Attorney’s Office.
Sheriff Jim McDonnell said that Owen radioed he had the suspect at gunpoint before he was shot.
“The suspect immediately shot Sergeant Owen. He then stood over and executed Sergeant Owen by firing four additional rounds into his body. He then unsuccessfully searched the body for the sergeant’s weapon with the intent to use it to murder the first responding deputy,” McDonnell said previously.
Lovell said he fired one round at Owen, hitting him in the face and then “walked up and (he) finished the job,” explaining that he “emptied the whole five shots” from his revolver, according to the D.A.’s review of the officer-involved shooting.
Lovell allegedly jumped into the sergeant’s patrol vehicle as a second deputy arrived at the scene and when ordered to get out and get on the ground, pointed his revolver at the second deputy, who fired on him. Lovell then jumped back in the patrol car and used it to ram the deputy’s vehicle before running from the scene, according to the D.A.’s review.
The deputy fired a total of 18 rounds, striking the suspect once in the shoulder, the report stated.
Then Lovell allegedly took a 17- and 19-year-old brother and sister hostage at knifepoint for about an hour, first convincing them that he needed help after a robbery and shooting. The sister’s text to her mother alerted police, who set up a perimeter and ultimately arrested Lovell when he walked out of the back of the house. He was treated for one through-and-through gunshot wound to his shoulder.
Owens was a 29-year department veteran who had worked in the Antelope Valley for years and was well known for his community involvement, especially with area youths. He was promoted to sergeant five years earlier and worked as a sheriff’s Arson-Explosives detective.
His killing prompted an outpouring of support for his family and remembrances of Owen’s unwavering dedication to his job and commitment to the community. Law enforcement officers from as far away as New York and public officials including Gov. Jerry Brown attended his funeral service. A section of State Route 14 in the Antelope Valley was dedicated in his name on the one-year anniversary of his death.
Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris said at the ceremony that the dedication “will serve as a continuous reminder of his selfless act, as well as a lesson to us all that we each have the ability to improve our community — much like Steve did every day.”
Owen’s alleged killer has been arrested 11 times, first as a juvenile on suspicion of selling marijuana, and was jailed or imprisoned twice, according to the sheriff. Lovell has been held without bail since his arrest.
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