Baltimore SWAT team members were ordered to shoot to kill Reno Owens, a man holding two young children at knife point, according to bodycam footage from the raid. Owens was holding a 1-year-old baby and a 4-year-old toddler hostage while gripping a 12-inch knife and singing to the children.
“I want you to be relaxed, and I want you to walk in there and kill this guy,” a Baltimore SWAT sergeant is heard telling officer Zachary Wein on the bodycam footage just prior to the Reno Owens raid. “He is highly agitated, has a knife at the kids’ throats. There’s no need for less lethal.”
Zachary Wein is the officer who reportedly fired the fatal shot at Owens in a coordinated move to save the two toddlers. Owens can be heard yelling to his cousin that her daughter was dead. At one point during the recording, the children are crying out for their father, and Owens orders his cousin to bring the dad to the apartment.
The Baltimore SWAT team was able to successfully rescue the baby and the toddler from the clutches of their mother’s cousin, WBALTV reports.
— Baltimore City Paper (@city_paper) March 28, 2017
The same Baltimore SWAT sergeant went on to say Reno Owens could kill the children, and non-lethal force was simply not an option. The baby and the toddler were the children of Owens’ female cousin. He was witnessed reciting prayers to the children, threatening them, as well as singing and laughing to them early last Friday morning. Owens, 39, had spent the night at the home the evening prior, according to a Daily Mail report.
The Baltimore police officers took down Owens after they entered the apartment, and negotiations had failed. The graphic bodycam footage from the SWAT team raid was shared with the press on Tuesday. The footage now being shown to the public represents an edited portion of the recording and shows only the moments before the raid and the apartment entry being made by the Baltimore SWAT team and not the fatal shooting of Reno Owens.
Owens’ female cousin is also shown on the Baltimore SWAT team bodycam video. She said when she went to check on her children in the morning, Reno was holding a knife in his hand and her two toddlers hostage. The woman ran to meet the police officers when they arrived and told them Owens had charged her while holding a knife in his hand.
The frantic mother can be seen trying desperately to retrieve a key to her apartment to hand to the SWAT team officers. She also told the law enforcement team that her cousin appeared to be under the influence of drugs.
“His mind is somewhere else,” the mother said.
The Baltimore SWAT team is heard urging Reno Owens to let go of the two toddlers after they enter the apartment. He screamed in response to the order by the officers, then resumed singing “Rock-a-bye Baby” to the young children. The officers tried several more times to get the suspect to drop the 12-inch butcher knife, but he continued to refuse to comply with their order.
“I’d rather go out this way,” Owens can be heard saying to the SWAT team in the raw bodycam footage.
Hostage negotiators had been called in to help bring about a peaceful resolution to the incident, but they did not make it to the scene in time. The Baltimore SWAT team tried to negotiate a release of the toddlers for about 30 minutes before deciding the need to take action to prevent injury to the children was paramount.
Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis heralded the manner in which the Baltimore SWAT team handled the hostage situation. Davis chose to only release an edited snippet from the bodycam to the public to spare the children from having to relive the horrific ordeal or watch the fatal shooting in the years to come.
“As they go through their childhood, adolescence and rest of their lives we didn’t want to create a media or a video footprint that they would be exposed to intentionally, maybe, or unintentionally, probably, that would further traumatize them as they go on and live their lives,” Commissioner Davis said.
Reno Owens Jr allegedly barricaded himself in a bedroom while holding 2 children at the point of a butcher’s knife.https://t.co/cEF6ULlKnA
— WJZ | CBS Baltimore (@cbsbaltimore) March 27, 2017
The police commissioner went on to praise the Baltimore SWAT team for their “courage, bravery and grace under pressure.” Doreen Parker, the mother of Reno Owens, said she was completely shocked when she found out her son was holding their young relative’s hostage at knife point. Parker said Owens lives with her and has struggled with depression on occasion. She went on to claim her son would never hurt anyone and loves children.
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