Community in ‘unbelievable shock,’ law enforcement agencies step up following Pope County deputy’s death

Community mourning after Pope Co. deputy killed

Community mourning after Pope Co. deputy killed

The State of Minnesota on Tuesday continued to honor and mourn the loss of Pope County Sheriff’s Deputy Josh Owen who was killed during a shooting over the weekend.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS more information could be released as soon as Wednesday.

“It was hard walking up here,” Becky Elwood from Glenwood shared as she laid flowers on Deputy Owen’s memorialized squad car, sitting atop a hill outside the Pope County Courthouse and Law Enforcement Center. “But I thought, it’s easy for me. His poor family and friends.”

She didn’t need to know him personally to feel the need to pay respects, Elwood said.

“He will be missed greatly,” she continued. “Just such an unbelievable shock. I mean you hear about it and you feel bad. But, boy, when it comes close to home it hits hard.”

Just down the hill from Owen’s memorialized squad car, sat a line of squad cars Tuesday morning, ranging from Alexandria to Starbuck to Minneapolis Police vehicles. A number of agencies took over all Pope County deputies’ shifts for the rest of the week, a Douglas County dispatcher explained to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.

“It’s like they’re guarding him,” Elwood commented.

Gov. Tim Walz ordered all state buildings to fly Minnesota flags at half-staff on Tuesday through sundown Saturday. In a proclamation, Gov. Walz thanked Owen for his “service to, and sacrifice for, his fellow Minnesotans.”

The flags in Glenwood have been flying low at the County Courthouse and across the street at the City’s Public Safety and Municipal Building since at least Sunday morning.

Details remain scarce as the BCA investigates what unfolded about 20 miles west at a home in Cyrus, Minnesota on Saturday night, ending in the shooting death of Deputy Owen on his 44th birthday.

“They informed a man at the home that he was under arrest for domestic assault. The man drew a firearm and immediately began shooting at officers,” BCA Deputy Superintendent of Investigations Scott Mueller said during a press conference Sunday.

Owen’s partner, Deputy Brody Merrill, and a Starbuck officer — yet to be identified by authorities — were also hurt, but are recovering, Mueller said.

The man who allegedly shot at police, also not identified, died after officers returned fire, Mueller continued.

As details trickle in, the community has found some solace in Owen’s squad car, covered in flowers, mementos and prayers.

“He sounds like a wonderful person, and he will be greatly missed by his family and by the community in Pope County,” Elwood said.

A funeral service for Deputy Owen will be held at Minnewaska Area High School on Saturday following a visitation.