On the afternoon of August 2, Deputy Sorensen, assigned as a Resident Deputy in the unincorporated area East of the City of Palmdale, responded to a trespassing call near the community of Llano. A short time later a citizen reported hearing several gun shots in the same area. Responding Deputies located Sorensen’s radio car, but did not immediately locate Sorensen. A search of the area was initiated and Sorensen’s body with a fatal gun shot wound to the upper torso was located several hundred yards away from his radio car. Prior to the confrontation that took his life, Sorensen did radio in a description and license number of a vehicle at the scene of the trespassing call. The vehicle was registered to a Donald Charles Kueck, 52, who had a lengthy criminal record, including arrests for resisting arrest and assault on a peace officer.
The vehicle described by Sorensen was found 2 1/2 miles from the crime scene and a massive manhunt was initiated in an attempt to locate Donald Kueck the registered owner of the vehicle. On Sunday, the day following the slaying of Deputy Sorensen, more than 100 investigators and volunteers using helicopters, horses and dogs searched a 15 square-mile area for clues. Although Kueck was not located, investigators did find chemicals “consistent with manufacturing methamphetamine” in the area.
On August 8th, Kueck was located at his residence, where he engaged deputies in a fire fight. Tear gas was fired into the house, setting the house on fire and burning it to the ground. A burned corpse was located in the ashes, later identified as the remains of Kueck. Prior to the fire fight, Kueck admitted in a phone call to investigators that he had shot and killed Deputy Sorensen.
Deputy Sorensen, a 12 year veteran of the Sheriff’s department had previously been employed by the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors and had worked in a number of assignments within the Sheriff’s Department before being assigned as a resident deputy in the East Palmdale area. He became the third Los Angeles County deputy sheriff to die in the line of duty during the last two years.
Sorensen was remembered by more than one member of the community he served; on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, as a dedicated, involved member of the community, always involved in school and sports activities. A member of the local school district board described him as “the backbone of the community, always doing what was right”.
Captain Carl Deeley, Sorensen’s Station Commander had high praise for “a man and his family who lived the job 24 hours a day, in a remote and dangerous area, dealing with outlaw bikers, gang members and a variety of people”. “He was like the original beat cop. He walked the beat and everybody knew him”, Captain Deeley said. “If a kid was truant, he knew where the kid was and where he was supposed to be”.
On Thursday morning, August 7, Memorial Services for Deputy Stephen D. Sorensen were conducted at the Lancaster Baptist Church in Lancaster. Members of the Sorensen family, community leaders and fellow deputies were joined by over 3,000 mourners representing a myriad of jurisdictions paying their final respects.
Deputy Sorensen is survived by his wife Christine, an adult son, and an adopted 2 year old son.
Sheriff’s Relief Fund #304 has been established for persons wishing to make a donation to the Sorensen family.