CBS, June 7, 2023
A White woman whowas arrested Tuesday, authorities said, in a case that’s put Florida’s divisive “ ” back in the spotlight. The shooting sparked widespread anger and protests.
The Marion County Sheriff’s Office said Susan Lorincz, 58, was charged with manslaughter with a firearm and other offenses.
Ajike Owens, a 35-year-old mother of four, was killed Friday night in a shooting Sheriff Billy Woods said was the culmination of a 2-and-a-half-year feud between the neighbors. They lived in the rolling hills south of Ocala, a north Florida city that’s the heart of the state’s horse country.
In a video posted on Facebook late Tuesday night, the sheriff said this was not a stand your ground case but “simply a killing.”
According to the sheriff’s office, evidence showed that, over time, Lorincz had become angry over Owens’ children playing in a field close to her apartment.
On Friday night, the office said, Lorincz got into an argument with the children and “was overhead yelling at them by a neighbor.”
During the argument, the office continued, Lorincz threw a roller skate at Owens’ 10-year-old son and hit him in a toe. The boy and his 12-year-old brother then went to speak to Lorincz, and she opened her door and swung at them with an umbrella. They told their mother what happened and “Owens approached Lorincz’s home, knocked on the door multiple times, and demanded that Lorincz come outside. Lorincz then fired one shot through the door, striking Owens in her upper chest.
When questioned by the sheriff’s office, Lorincz claimed she acted in self-defense and that Owens was trying to break down her door. “Lorincz also claimed that Owens had come after her in the past and had previously attacked her,” the office continued.
The manslaughter charge Lorincz is facing is punishable by up to 30 years in prison, the office noted. She’s also charged with culpable negligence, battery, and two counts of assault.
Owens’ family membersat a news conference Monday.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who’s representing Owens’ family, said in a statement that the shooter had been yelling racial slurs at the children before the confrontation.
He also represented‘s family in 2012, when the Black teenager was killed in a case that .
The sheriff’s office hasn’t confirmed there were slurs uttered or said whether race was a factor in the shooting.
About three dozen mostly Black protesters had gathered outside the Marion County Judicial Center Tuesday to demand that the shooter be arrested in the country’s latest flashpoint over race and gun violence. The chief prosecutor, State Attorney William Gladson, met with the protesters and urged patience while the investigation continued.
The sheriff said that since January 2021, deputies responded at least a half-dozen calls in connection with what police described as feuding between Owens and the woman who shot her.
“There was a lot of aggressiveness from both of them, back and forth,” the sheriff said the shooter told investigators. “Whether it be banging on the doors, banging on the walls and threats being made. And then at that moment is when Ms. Owens was shot through the door.”
“I’m absolutely heartbroken,” Angela Ferrell-Zabala, executive director of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, told The Associated Press. She described the fatal shooting as “so senseless.”
Ferrell-Zabala said stand your ground cases, which she refers to as “shoot first laws,” are deemed justifiable five times more frequently when a White shooter kills a Black victim.
In 2017, Florida lawmakers updated the state’s self-defense statute to shift the burden of proof from a person claiming self-defense to prosecutors. That means authorities have to rule out self-defense before bringing charges. Before the change in law, prosecutors could charge someone with a shooting and then defense attorneys would have to present an affirmative defense for why their client shouldn’t be convicted.