A 58-year-old white woman in Florida who shot and killed her Black neighbor through her locked door last week was arrested on Tuesday evening, following a backlash in the community when she initially faced no arrest or criminal charges. The shooter, whose identity had been concealed for several days since she killed Ajike Owens, was identified by local officials as Susan Louise Lorincz.
Lorincz is charged with manslaughter with a firearm (punishable with up to 30 years in prison), culpable negligence, battery, and two counts of assault, Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods said in a statement.
On Monday, Woods said he was unable to make an arrest, as his investigators were still determining whether Lorincz had been abiding by the state’s Stand Your Ground laws when she shot and killed Owens. Stand Your Ground laws allow citizens to defend themselves with deadly force if they fear they’re in imminent danger. However, Owens was unarmed and in the presence of her young children, and Lorincz was behind a locked door.
“This is not a whodunnit. We know who did the shooting,” Woods said at the time, adding that he “[wished] our shooter would have called us instead of taking actions into her own hands.”
In a video statement shared with the public on Tuesday night, Woods said his office determined that Owens’ death was not a Stand Your Ground case but “simply a killing.” The sheriff acknowledged that “many of you were struggling to understand why there was not an immediate arrest,” and explained, “The laws here in the state of Florida are clear. Now, I may not like them. I may not agree with them. But however, those laws I will follow.”
Lawyers for Owens’ family have said the conflict leading up to Owens’ death began when her young children were playing in a field near their apartment complex. They allege Lorincz “began yelling at [the kids] to get off her land and calling them racial slurs.” The children then left the field and accidentally left behind an iPad, which Lorincz then took for herself. When Owens’ kids went to Lorincz’s home to retrieve the iPad, the lawyers say that Lorincz threw it, hitting one of the children. This prompted Owens to come to Lorincz’s home and try to confront her—only for Lorincz to shoot Owens through the door, killing her, Owens’ family lawyers claim.
Woods on Tuesday night said his office conducted interviews with witnesses of the shooting, including Owens’ young children, and uncovered a long-running feud between Lorincz and Owens. According to Woods, on Friday, prior to the confrontation outside Lorincz’s door, Lorincz “engaged in an argument with the children” and “threw a roller skate at Owens’ 10-year-old son, striking the child in the toe.” When the child’s 12-year-old brother went to speak to Lorincz, Woods says “she opened her door and swung at them with an umbrella.”
Woods said the children then went and told their mother, Owens, what had happened, and Owens approached Lorincz’s home and knocked multiple times, asking Lorincz to come outside. Instead, Woods told reporters, “Lorincz then fired one shot through the door, striking Owens in her upper chest. At the time she was shot, Owens’ 10-year-old son was standing beside her.”
According to Woods, Lorincz claimed she’d “acted in self-defense” and that “Owens had come after her in the past and had previously attacked her.” But investigators ultimately concluded that “Lorincz’s actions were not justifiable under Florida law.” Woods concludes the video statement by thanking Owens’ family “for their patience as we conducted the diligent investigation that we were bound by law to conduct.”
This is Ajike “AJ” Owens — a mother of 4 fatally shot after she reportedly knocked on the door of a white woman’s residence to retrieve her child’s iPad. It’s believed that Owens’ children accidentally left the device behind in a field they were playing in, & the woman took it. pic.twitter.com/jfC6JJdQCS
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) June 5, 2023
“Ms. Lorincz’s fate is now in the hands of the judicial system, which I trust will deliver justice in due course,” Woods said. “As I go to bed tonight, I will be saying a prayer for Ms. Owens’ children and the rest of her family. I’d ask all of you to do the same.”
Owens’ shooting death comes amid numerous, gutting national headlines about shootings and killings of people for merely stepping on an armed homeowner’s property—sometimes accidentally. Race has always played an inextricable role in who is perceived as threatening and dangerous—the Marion County NAACP president, Bishop J. David Stockton III, condemned Owens’ death as a product of our culture of racist violence. “The truth is we’ve gotten to a point where Black folks are almost living in a day where we are afraid to go outside,” Stockton said at a press conference earlier this week. “Our children and adults deserve to live in a world where they do not live in fear of their neighbors.”
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