A sheriff’s deputy who had a bullet lodged in his head from an on-duty shooting 24 years ago has died, the Assn. for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs said.
In 1994, Steven Belanger had been on the force for seven years when a man on a skateboard rode up to him and shot him in the head and foot in Rowland Heights as Belanger was investigating an assault.
Surgeons were able to remove bone fragments from his head after the shooting but could not recover the bullet.
The sheriff’s deputy association said that Belanger’s retirement, health issues and ultimately his death on Tuesday were related to the shooting.
“Los Angeles County lost a true hero yesterday. While he was shot in the line of duty over two decades ago, Steve and his family bravely faced the challenges of his injuries up until his passing,” said Ron Hernandez, president of the Assn. for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, in a statement. “Steve's death is a tragic loss that reminds us of the risks that law enforcement officers take every day to keep us safe. His service and sacrifice will never be forgotten. As our hearts go out to Deputy Belanger's family, friends and coworkers, we ask the public to keep Steve's family in their thoughts and prayers.”
Belanger was 29 years old with a wife and infant daughter at the time of the shooting, according to reports at the time. He had pulled over a driver he recognized as a suspect from a recent assault and was interviewing a teen girl with him when 20-year-old Matthew Hagemann approached him from behind and opened fire.
Hagemenn was a friend of the assault suspect and later fatally shot himself in front of a Catholic church in Paramount.