Police investigating a double homicide in Jackson, Tenn., are referring to one of the victims, an Arkansas State football player, as “a hero.”
Red Wolves defensive lineman Markel Owens, along with his stepfather Johnny Shivers, were gunned down late Wednesday night by two masked intruders who were attempting to rob the family in their apartment. Owens’ mother, 37-year-old Chermaine Owens, was shot during the home invasion but survived, thanks in part, police said, by her 21-year-old son’s heroics.
“I think Mr. Owens had just arrived home minutes before this happened,” Jackson Police Department Captain Tyreece Miller told the Jackson Sun Thursday. “After interviewing the witnesses about what happened, we believe there was an initial struggle between Shivers and one of the men. We believe Owens attempted to protect his family or defend his mother and stepfather. He could have perhaps saved his mother’s life. …
In an interview with KAIT-TV in Jonesboro, Miller again referenced heroics on the part of Owens.
“I believe he intervened because he saw his stepfather,” said Capt. Miller. “He witnessed him get shot and he was protecting him and his mother. I think that it was heroic and it cost him his life, unfortunately.”
Police have surmised the two alleged killers, who have yet to be identified or apprehended, followed Shivers to his residence. The Sun wrote that “[p]olice have said they believe the robbers were targeting Shivers and that marijuana was found inside Shivers’ home.” Police also told the TV station that the armed intruders “got away with a large amount of money.”
Shivers was pronounced dead at the scene, while Owens succumbed to his gunshot wounds after being transported to a local hospital. When police arrived at the residence, Owens’ mother was found lying in the front yard and taken for treatment. She was treated and released from the hospital a short time later.
Shortly after the tragedy involving Owens was reported, Arkansas State released statements addressing the passing of a player who would’ve been entering his final season of college football in 2014.
“Our worst fears were realized as an athletics department after being notified early this morning about the unfortunate news about Markel,” said athletic directorTerry Mohajir. “We’re deeply sadden and our utmost sympathies go out to his family, teammates and classmates. Please join me in prayer for so many people who are being impacted by the loss of Markel.”
“Markel was a part of our Red Wolves family, and it is obvious he was a well-liked and respected member of our team who will be missed,” ASU head football coach Blake Anderson said. “We are doing everything possible to comfort his teammates, and we extend our compassion to his family during this difficult time.”