Arkansas State defensive lineman Markel Owens was killed defending his family from a home invasion Wednesday night, Jackson, Tenn. police confirmed.
According to the Jackson Police Department, two masked men had been targeting Owens' stepfather, Johnny Shivers, and followed him home in an attempt to rob him. Minutes after Shivers arrived home on Wednesday evening, a struggle ensued between him and the two armed robbers, with Owens rushing to the defense of his stepfather.
Shivers and Owens were both shot as a result.
The police were then called and arrived at approximately 9:30 p.m. ET at the duplex, where they found Shivers already deceased. Owens was taken to Jackson-Madison County General Hospital and pronounced dead. Chermaine Owens, mother of Markel and Shivers' wife, was also shot in Wednesday night's incident, but was released from Jackson-Madison.
Cash was taken from the apartment and marijuana was also found at Shivers' home. Jackson police said Thursday that they believe the robbers had prior knowledge of this.
Captain Tyreece Miller called Owens a "hero" for his actions:
"We believe Owens attempted to protect his family or defend his mother and stepfather. He could have perhaps saved his mother's life."
Owens spent this season as a backup on the Red Wolves' defensive line, recording four tackles in four games, and would have been a redshirt senior next season. In 2010, which he spent redshirting, he made the ASU Athletic Director's Honor Roll. A two-star recruit at Liberty Technology Magnet in Jackson, Owens also earned all-district honors three times and was named District MVP in 2009, his senior year.
A few tributes on social media from his teammates and coaches have been attached below:
A-State Athletics expresses our deepest sympathies to the family, teammates, & classmates of #AStateFB student-athlete Markel Owens.— A-State Athletics (@AStateRedWolves) January 16, 2014
Our thoughts & prayers go out to the friends and family of Markel Owens. In my short time here, it is easy to see he will be dearly missed.— Blake Anderson (@CHbanderson) January 16, 2014
Thoughts and prayers for the family of Markel Owens. His brothers at stAte and those he touched will miss him dearly. God Bless.— Coach Bryan Harsin (@bryanharsin) January 16, 2014
The good die young. RIP Markel Owens. You will be missed brother.— Ha'unga (@S_T_HAUNGA) January 16, 2014