5 accused of helping suspect evade capture after killing of L.A. sheriff’s sergeant

Sheriff’s detectives have arrested five people they say helped a man evade police after the fatal shooting of a Los Angeles County sheriff’s sergeant last year.

The suspects are accused of helping 27-year-old Trenton Trevon Lovell duck a massive police dragnet after authorities say he shot and killed Sgt. Steve Owen in Lancaster while responding to a burglary call on Oct. 5, according to a news release issued by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Owen, a 29-year department veteran, was responding to what appeared to be a routine burglary call on West Avenue J-7 in Lancaster when he confronted Lovell. Sheriff Jim McDonnell said Lovell wounded Owen, then stood over his bloodied body and fired an additional four shots.

“This was a calculated execution,” the sheriff said after the shooting.

After the shooting, investigators say Lovell tried to steal Owen’s patrol cruiser, causing a car crash. He then fled into a nearby home and held two teenagers hostage. One of the teens managed to get a message to his family, and Lovell was arrested after fleeing out the back door of the house.

Lovell also was wounded in the shooting, police have said.

The suspects arrested on suspicion of helping Lovell evade capture are: Lydell Herd, 31; Robert Thomas, 28; Richard Cowley, 24; Larry Johnson, 27, all of Los Angeles; and Deshawn Peterson, 18, of Lancaster. All five were arrested Thursday near their residences, authorities said.

Capt. Steven Katz, who heads the sheriff’s homicide bureau, said the five men attempted to help Lovell escape the area that deputies had established in the neighborhood after Owen was shot, but he did not specify how they tried to help. He would not say whether any of the suspects had been in direct contact with Lovell after the shooting.

Investigators have established a “connection” between Lovell and the five men, but Katz declined to say what the relationship was.

Lovell’s next court appearance is scheduled for Feb. 15.

Owen, 53, was known as a benign and fatherly presence throughout the Antelope Valley, remembered fondly by fellow deputies and even those he had arrested.

In the days after the shooting, Randy Johnson Jr. recalled a time when Owen had arrested him for marijuana possession. While seated in the back of Owen’s cruiser, Johnson told the sergeant that he had struggled since moving from Utah to Lancaster and that he was without friends or much money.

Owen offered his help to the troubled teen from that point on, promising to drive him to school and keep an eye on him. When Johnson was bullied over the condition of his shoes, Owen bought him a new pair of Nike sneakers.

“I’m only here because of him,” Johnson told The Times last year. “He’d do anything for you, your community and your kids. A damn good man.”

Times staff writer Joseph Serna contributed to this report.

james.queally@latimes.com

Follow @JamesQueallyLAT for crime and police news in California.

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UPDATES:

12:55 p.m.: This article was updated with additional comments from the Sheriff’s Department and background on Sgt. Steve Owen.

This article was originally published at 12:05 p.m.

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