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Agua Dulce residents identify suspect in Saugus bank robbery

Posted: November 10, 2012 6:34 p.m.
Updated: November 10, 2012 6:34 p.m.

Almost every morning, Steve Bowman sat down for breakfast in the Sweetwater Cafe, in the tiny rural town of Agua Dulce.

Up until his wife, Debra, died two years ago, he and his wife ate breakfast there together.

Often he would walk next door to the Agua Dulce Hardware store and talk to the employees there.

Then, about two weeks ago, Steve Bowman stopped coming in for breakfast, a waiter at the cafe said Saturday.

Townsfolk in the heart of Agua Dulce — between the cafe, the liquor store, antique shop and the hardware store who saw him almost daily — were stunned to hear their 60-year-old friend and neighbor died in a hail of bullets behind the wheel of his Chevy Suburban SUV on Friday, after having robbed a bank in Saugus and led sheriff’s deputies on 50-mile chase.

“Everyone around here knew him as a neighbor. It’s a sad story,” said one woman who works at the hardware store who did not want to be identified.

“We don’t know what we can do when we’re pushed to the limit,” she said. “I think he just gave up after his wife died.”

A waiter at the Sweetwater Cafe said only: “He stopped coming in here and hasn’t been in for a while.”

Armed robbery

On Friday, Agua Dulce residents gathered around a TV in the hardware store as reports unfolded about a bank robbery in Saugus that morning.

“We were all in here and someone said he had just seen him that morning and had seen what he was wearing,” the hardware store woman said.

They all recognized the Suburban he drove through town.

On Friday, Bowman, dressed in camouflage, held up the Bank of America bank in Saugus, then fled in his SUV to the Antelope Valley, where he was shot on a Lancaster cul-de-sac and killed by sheriff’s deputies in Lancaster.

Deputies followed him on Sierra Highway and Highway 14 all the way to Lancaster, where he exited the freeway and stopped in a residential area of Lancaster. Traffic was light on the freeway, and pursuing deputies called for a spike strip.

One of the SUV’s tires was blown out by a spike strip, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Nicole Nishida said during a news conference in Lancaster on the day of the robbery.

The robber, whose identity wasn’t known at the time, got off the freeway and drove into a neighborhood, eventually pulling into a cul-de-sac where he was boxed in by deputies, Nishida said. The man stopped in the 45000 block of Desert Springs Drive and was warned to stand down, Nishida said.

The man got out of his car and then got back into it as law enforcement surrounded him. Deputies tried nonlethal methods of subduing, including stun bags, Nishida said. When he brandished a gun at them, they opened fire.

“Deputies feared for their lives and opened fire on the suspect,” she said.

Bowman was shot through the windshield of the SUV shortly after 10 a.m., by one account, as many as 30 times.

Sheriff’s deputies and officials with the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner have not officially identified the man killed in the incident.

A spokesman for the coroner’s office said Saturday that an autopsy is expected to be done on the body.

Agua Dulce resident

Steven Anthony Bowman lived on Canyon Quail Trail in Agua Dulce, a dirt road off Darling Road, which leads directly to the Agua Dulce Hardware store.

He married Debra Jean Grass in 1971 and together they moved into their ranch-style home atop a small hill. They raised two sons.

Neighbors said he was a marksman and gun enthusiast.

Last year, his wife died, and Steve Bowman was never the same, according to his Agua Dulce neighbors who saw him daily.

He carried his small dog, a Maltese mixed breed, with him on visits to town, they said.



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