Family wants justice after neighbor arrested for killing a mom in front of her kids
By Tesfaye Negussie,2023-06-07
The family of a Florida mother of four called for justice after her alleged killer -- a neighbor she was feuding with -- was arrested, asking the state attorney to deliver an effective prosecution.
“Do not fail AJ,” said Pamela Dias, the mother of Ajike Owens, 35, during a press conference with attorney Ben Crump. “I don't know how long this is going to take, but we can’t grow tired. We cannot be weary.”
Owens, who is Black, was shot and killed on June 2 in Ocala, Florida on the doorstep of the home of Susan Lorincz, who is white, after Owens went to the suspect's residence to question her about an alleged dispute with Owens' children, according to police reports.
Lorincz was arrested and charged with first-degree manslaughter, punishable by up to 30 years in prison, if convicted, the sheriff's office said in a statement. She was also charged with culpable negligence, battery and two counts of assault.
“[The state attorney], he has a job to do and that is to zealously prosecute the killer of AJ Owens,” Crump said in front of a roaring crowd at the news conference. “Just like he would do if the roles had been reversed and you had a Black woman shoot a white woman through a locked, metal door and kill her in front of her children.”
The Marion County state attorney's office said in a statement to ABC News they had to limit public comments because the criminal case is still pending, but were able to briefly respond to Crump's request.
"Now that an arrest has been made, our office will diligently pursue the prosecution of the defendant, Susan Lorincz," the state attorney's office said in a statement to ABC News. "Our sole focus will be to bring justice to Ajike Owens, her family and her loved ones."
In a statement, the Marion County sheriff’s office explained they conducted interviews with witnesses, Owens’ children and Lorincz. Authorities say the suspect told police that she shot Owens in self-defense, but through their investigation, the sheriff’s office determined Lorincz’s actions were not justified under Florida law.MORE: Police search for remaining suspect after 9 injured in shooting at Florida beach
“Ms. Lorincz’s fate is now in the hands of the judicial system, which I trust will deliver justice in due course,” Marion County sheriff Billy Woods said in a statement. “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.”
Woods said there was an ongoing feud between Owens and the suspect. The day of the shooting, the children were playing in a field on the property in which the suspect's home is located. At that point, the suspect allegedly engaged in an argument with the children, according to the Marion County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO).
Lorincz allegedly threw a pair of skates at Owens’ 9-year-old son and hit the child in the toe, according to MCSO. Afterwards, the minor and his 12-year-old brother went to Lorincz’s home to speak to her. Lorincz swung an umbrella at them, according to a statement from MCSO.
The children notified Owens, resulting in Owens going to the suspect's home and demanding that she come out. That’s when Lorincz shot Owens through her closed door, striking her in the upper chest, according to MCSO. Owen’s 9-year-old son was beside her, according to MCSO.
“Our 12-year-old blames himself for the death of his mother because he couldn't save her,” Dias said at the press conference. “He couldn’t give her CPR. His words, ‘Grandma, grandma, I couldn’t save her! I tried to give her CPR! I tried to give her CPR!’”
According to police records, when officers arrived on the scene, they found Owens under a nearby tree with a gunshot wound. She had a faint pulse as the officers applied medical aid. Owens was transported to a local hospital where she was pronounced deceased at 9:33 P.M on June 2.MORE: Video shows fatal shooting during parking spot fight in Florida
Lorincz did not immediately return ABC News’ request for an interview or statement. In a separate press conference on Monday, Woods said that Florida Stand Your Ground laws made it harder to execute an immediate arrest. The sheriff’s major crimes unit was finally able to arrest Lorincz on Tuesday after gathering enough evidence, according to MCSO.
“I pray that God gives me the strength, the wisdom and the ability to raise these children as our daughter would have us to do,” Dias said. “[They] witnessed their mother murdered in cold blood.”