Slain Pope County deputy identified; another deputy and officer injured by gunfire Saturday night
The deputy who was killed in a shooting that wounded two other law enforcement officers Saturday night in western Minnesota has been identified.
Pope County Deputy Josh Owen, who was on duty during his 44th birthday Saturday, died after being taken to the hospital in critical condition.
The Pope County Sheriff’s Office says Owen has been with the department for nearly 12 years and “had a heart as big as his stature.” He leaves behind a wife and son.
Pope County authorities gave an update on the shooting Sunday afternoon. View the video of that news conference below:
Law enforcement agencies across the state, including the Savage Police Department and the Inver Grove Heights Police Department, expressed their condolences on social media Sunday. Lakeville police also noted that it came a week to the day after two western Wisconsin officers were killed in the line of duty and on the day those officers were laid to rest.
The other Pope County deputy wounded by gunfire was identified by ABC affiliate WDAY as Deputy Brody Merrill, Owen’s partner. A statement from Merrill’s family said, “Brody is ok physically, he’s hurt but going to be ok, but he’s devastated. One of his best friends died tonight.”
The name of the injured Starbuck police officer has not yet been released.
It happened after the officers responded to a domestic call at around 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Cyrus, a small town around 20 miles west of Glenwood. Authorities say there was “an exchange of gunfire” between officers and a man at the home during an attempted arrest. The man who authorities say opened fire on the officers was struck and killed, officials say.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is leading the investigation.
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz also expressed his condolences to the law enforcement community and the deputy’s family.
In a statement, the governor said, “Minnesota grieves for the family and colleagues of Pope County Sheriff’s Deputy Josh Owen, who was shot and killed in the line of duty last night. Deputy Owen was a husband, a father, a veteran, and a hero. Just last year, he was honored with a distinguished service award after helping to rescue a neighbor from a burning home. He bravely served his state and nation. Gwen and I are praying for his family and community through this tragedy.”
“Our hearts are heavy today as we grieve for Pope County Sheriff’s Deputy Josh Owen, who was killed in the line of duty last night,” Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan added. “Our family prays for his loved ones, wishing them peace and comfort through the outpouring of support from Minnesotans across the state.”
State Senator Torrey Westrom (R-Alexandria) shared a statement honoring Owen’s service:
“I am grieved by last night’s incident in Cyrus. We lift up in prayer the families, friends, and colleagues of Deputy Josh Owen who tragically lost his life and the other two law enforcement officers who were injured. Owen’s legacy of service to our community will always be honored and remembered. Our law enforcement officers risk their lives for our protection every day and we must never forget the dangers they face in their job.”Minnesota Senator Torrey Westrom.
Rep. Paul Anderson (R-Starbuck) and Rep. Mary Franson (R-Alexandria), who both represent Pope County in the Minnesota House of Representatives, sent out a joint statement in reaction to the shooting:
“We are heartbroken about tonight’s incident in Cyrus — this is a tragic reminder of the dangers that our public safety professionals face protecting our communities. Please join us in praying for the families of the officers, the community of Cyrus, the Starbuck Police Department, and the Pope County Sheriffs Office.”Minnesota Reps. Paul Anderson Mary Franson.