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Officials seek suspects in Compton slaying of high school senior

September 30, 2010 |  9:11 am

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is seeking the public’s assistance in solving the brutal murder of a high school senior 18 months ago in Compton.

Michael Owens, 19, the son of an Army National Guard member, was gunned down the afternoon of Jan. 26, 2009 at West 132nd Street and Riddle Avenue as he walked home from school, authorities said.

Gunfire erupted between two men, whom investigators learned were gang members, said Nicole Nishida, a Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman.

"Owens was not a gang member," Nishida said. "His death was the result of retaliation. He basically got caught in the crossfire."

Authorities said the slaying was made even more tragic because Owens' father, a National Guardsman whom police have not named, had completed four tours of duty in Iraq and was hoping to leave the violence behind him and regain lost time with his family.

Instead, he fell prey to "homegrown violence," Nishida said.

Sheriff Lee Baca and homicide detectives were scheduled to join members of Owens' family at a news conference at 9:30 a.m. Thursday to release more details about the crime and urge the public to help them identify and arrest the perpetrators.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

-- Ann M. Simmons

Click to visit The Times' interactive Homicide Report