Sergeant Bruce Owens

Sergeant Bruce Owens

Rhea County Sheriff's Department, Tennessee

End of Watch Thursday, December 29, 1994

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Bruce Owens

Sergeant Bruce Owens succumbed to gunshot wound
sustained in 1982 during an escape.

A work-release prisoner was being released to go to his night
shift job by an unarmed jailer. As he opened the cell door a
convicted felon being held for another department forced his
way out. Sergeant Owens walked in and tried to take custody
of the escapee and return him to the cell. The prisoner
resisted and during the scuffle he shot him with his weapon.
The escapee then took two officers hostage and forced them
to drive him in a patrol car to an area in the northern part of
Rhea County and forced the officers to handcuff themselves
to the screen and made his getaway. He eluded a massive
manhunt by numerous officers from several departments.

The escapee later committed an armed robbery in Louisiana,
shooting a responding officer, however, the officer was able,
with some help, to get back into his patrol car and and chase
the suspect to a residence a few blocks away. Officers
responded and surrounded the house and after a brief
standoff, heard a gun shot from inside the house and entered
to find the suspect dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Sergeant Owens was paralyzed from the waist down and
succumbed to complications from the gunshot wound on
December 30th, 1994.

Sergeant Owens had served with the Rhea County Sheriff's
Department for six years.


  • Age 60
  • Tour 6 years
  • Badge 118

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Incident Date Saturday, February 27, 1982
  • Weapon Gun; Unknown type
  • Offender Committed suicide

Most Recent Reflection

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Sgt. Owens,
On today, the 25th anniversary of your death I would just like to say thank you for your service and sacrifice for the citizens of Rhea County. And to your Family and loved ones, I wish to extend my deepest sympathy.


United States Border Patrol

December 29, 2019

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