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Hero Down: Pope County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Josh Owen Murdered By Domestic Violence Suspect

Cyrus, MN – Pope County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) Deputy Josh Owen was murdered in the line of duty while responding to a domestic violence call on Saturday night.

The series of events leading up to the fatal shooting began at approximately 7:30 p.m. on April 15, when the PCSO received a report of a domestic incident at an apartment building located at 421 North Stromen Street, the Star Tribune reported.

PCSO deputies and Starbuck Police Department (SPD) officers responded to the scene.

“When they got there, they went into the home and after some initial investigation they informed a man at the home that he was under arrest for domestic assault,” Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) Deputy Superintendent of Investigations Scott Mueller said during a press conference on Sunday, according to the Star Tribune.

“The man drew a firearm and immediately began shooting at officers,” Superintendent Mueller said.

Two PCSO deputies and one SPD officer were struck by the gunfire, the Star Tribune reported.

The wounded heroes returned fire, killing their attacker, according to the sheriff’s office.

Investigators said they located a handgun and numerous bullet casings beside the gunman’s body, the Star Tribune reported.

His identity was not immediately released.

The wounded law enforcement officers were rushed to Glacial Ridge Hospital, where Deputy Owen was pronounced dead.

The SPD officer and the second PCSO deputy who were shot are expected to survive, according to the Star Tribune.

The second deputy was identified as Deputy Owen’s partner, Deputy Brody Merrill, according to the West Central Tribune.

The identity of the SPD officer was not immediately released.

Officials said the attack was captured on multiple bodycams and that the footage will be released sometime in the future.

Pope County Sheriff Tim Riley announced the veteran deputy’s murder during an emotional news conference on Sunday, the Star Tribune reported.

“Yesterday, April 15, Pope County law enforcement lost a brother,” Sheriff Riley said. “Our sympathies and love are with Deputy Josh Owen’s family and families of the other deputies and officers involved.”

“Deputy Owen had a heart as big as his stature,” the sheriff continued. “He loved his family, his brotherhood and his community.”

The 44-year-old deputy was murdered on his birthday, the Star Tribune reported.

Deputy Owen was also a military veteran and a 12-year veteran of the PCSO.

He served alongside his four-legged partner, K9 Karma, KMSP reported.

Less than one month before his death, Deputy Owen received the PCSO’s Distinguished Service Award for assisting in the lifesaving rescue of a man who had been pulled from a house fire, the department said in a Facebook post.

He leaves behind his wife and his 10-year-old son.

“This killing is a senseless act of violence and hate towards police officers who put everything on the line to serve and protect our communities,” Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association (POA) Executive Director Brian Peters said. “It shows the dangers of the job that police do every day, and how what could be considered a ‘normal’ day could turn into their last day.”

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Pope County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Josh Owen, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.

Deputy Josh Owen, your life mattered.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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