Officer Derek Owens, Badge No. 746 of the Cleveland Police Department, succumbed to a gunshot wound to the abdomen on March 1st at the MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio making him the first line of duty death in the month of March.
According to Cleveland Police spokesman Lt. Tom Stacho, Officer Owens and his partner approached four men around 6:20 p.m. on Friday evening in the southeast side of the city after receiving complaints that men were drinking beer in an abandoned garage. Police had received numerous complaints from residents about the neighborhood, which is made up of duplexes, many of which are boarded-up and vandalized, and the officers recognized the men from previous neighborhood patrols. When the men attempted to flee the scene, the officers chased the men on foot.
Officer Owens caught up with one of the men, who turned around and shot the officer in the abdomen just beneath his bulletproof vest. Owens returned fire and the suspect then exchanged shots with Owens' partner but no one else appeared to be injured. "This was two officers aggressively doing their jobs," Lt. Thomas Stacho said. "This is what they do every day."
Fellow officers rushed the injured Owens to MetroHealth Medical Center in the back of a cruiser where he underwent surgery receiving over five pints of blood. Despite the best efforts of hospital surgeons, the 10-year veteran of the department died from his wounds at approximately 12:13 a.m.
At 2:45 a.m. Saturday morning, Officer Owens’s body was escorted by a contingent of fellow police officers to the Cuyahoga County coroner’s office where a brief ceremony was held that ended with an American flag draped over his body.
“It is a sad day for the Cleveland Police and all of Greater Cleveland. The death of Officer Owens is senseless and tragic. He was a true hero who paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving his community. My prayers go out to his family," said Police Chief Michael McGrath.
Officer Owens had worked in the 4th District since he was hired in September of 1998. He leaves behind his wife, an 8-year-old daughter, and a 6-year-old son.
Again, this was a senseless and tragic killing of a man whose job it was to protect and serve made even more senseless by the fact that the suspected shooter is a 19-year old male who had his whole life ahead of him before this life-ending event. This senseless killing of our Law Enforcement officers needs to stop and it needs to stop soon.