In the last 24 hours, two police officers in separate U.S. cities have been killed by gunfire while in the line of duty.
Sergeant Steve Owen was shot in the face in Lancaster, California, while responding to a residential burglary call on Wednesday. He later died in the hospital. Police officer Blake Snyder was shot and killed early Thursday morning in a shootout with a teenager in St. Louis.
“This has been a very dark day for the Sheriff’s Department,” Capt. Steve Katz said in the wake of Owen’s death. “We are all suffering right now.”
Via the L.A. Times:
The shooting occurred shortly after noon as Owen, 53, and another deputy responded to a 911 call from a woman reporting a burglary at an apartment building in the 3200 block of West Avenue J-7, authorities said.
As Owen checked the rear of the apartment building, a gunman appeared and shot him.
Owen’s partner, who was at the front of the building, ran to the sound of the gunfire and found the wounded sergeant.
The suspect, an adult black male on parole, was shot and taken to the hospital after he led police on a frenzied chase through the neighborhood which left one other officer injured.
Late Wednesday, dozens of deputies and local police stood in full uniform as Owen’s body was taken from the hospital on a flag-draped gurney. Family members and fellow officers followed, many of them sobbing openly.
A motorcade led by sheriff’s deputies and the California Highway Patrol escorted the coroner’s van from Lancaster to the morgue near downtown Los Angeles.
Along the 14 Freeway into the San Fernando Valley, law enforcement cars stopped on overpasses and flashed sirens to honor Owen.
Officer Owen was a 29-year department veteran who had previously won the agency’s highest honor for courage. He is survived by his wife and two children.
Snyder was shot multiple times and died instantly Thursday morning after responding to a disturbance in a quiet middle class neighborhood in St. Louis County. Police suspect he was ambushed.
The alleged gunman, according to Fox 2, is Trent Forster, an 18-year-old white male who is suspected in a narcotics felony and is now being charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action. He is being held on a one million dollar bond. Forster was critically injured in the 5 a.m. gun battle, officials said.
Via the NY Daily News:
Snyder and other officers responded to a disturbance call related to the reported drug felony at a home in Green Park, a small middle class community in south St. Louis County.
Police spokesman Benjamin Granda said almost as soon as they arrived, the suspect opened fire, striking the Snyder.
He and another officer had arrived at the scene and were met with gunfire immediately as they exited their patrol cars. Officer Snyder was shot at point blank and killed instantly. The second officer was able to return fire and wounded the subject.
The 33-year-old was a 4-year veteran of the force and leaves behind a wife and their 2-year-old son.
There have been 42 police officers killed by gunfire so far this year, which is up 50% from last year, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
Fox News military analyst Chuck Nash said the uptick was due to “the Ferguson effect,” the idea that police are refraining from taking proactive police action because of increased scrutiny and criticism from groups like Black Lives Matter and the Obama Justice Department.
“The police are no longer policing,” Nash said. “The bad guys are getting more free license, and these shootings are happening.”