Matthew Dillon Owens, 31, killed in shooting involving an officer in Highlands County

On Tuesday, June 20, 2023 at approximately 7:45 a.m., deputies from the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office were involved in a shooting involving an officer.

The shooting claimed the life of 31-year-old Matthew Dillon Owens.

No MPs were injured as a result of the shooting. This investigation is in its early stages and information may change as evidence is found.

In the early morning hours of June 20, at around 4:57 a.m., deputies attempted to carry out a traffic stop on a blue Dodge pickup truck driven by Owens, who refused to stop the vehicle and led law enforcement in a pursuit from Highlands County to Hardee County then back to the Highlands.

Owens crashed the truck into a citrus grove just south of Old Bombing Range Road in the Avon Park area, then fled on foot through the grove.

K-9 teams from the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office responded to the area and located Owens about a quarter mile from the vehicle, hiding atop a tree about 25 feet off the ground.

At this point, the deputies gave Owens verbal orders to come out of the tree, and he refused. The deputies could see something in Owens’ hand and ordered him to drop it. Again, Owens refused to follow orders. Owens then pointed the object at deputies, who fired their guns, hitting Owens.

Owens was pulled from the tree and immediately received medical attention. At approximately 8:30 a.m., he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Owens was very aware that he was wanted by law enforcement. On the evening of Sunday, June 18, Owens fled from law enforcement in Highlands and Hardee counties, then again on Monday, June 19, he fled from law enforcement in the St. . Lucy.

Owens had multiple active warrants for his arrest, which included two counts of capital sexual assault, one count of lewd assault of a child under 13 and one battery of domestic violence.

As is Highlands County Sheriff’s Office policy, this shooting involving a deputy will be investigated by the 10th Judicial Circuit Fatal Incident Task Force.

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