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    Saturday, September 30, 2023

    White woman who shot Black neighbor through door is arrested

    A white woman accused of shooting and killing her Black neighbor, 35-year-old Ajike "AJ" Owens, over a dispute involving Owens's children has been arrested in Marion County, Fla.

    Susan Louise Lorincz, 58, was charged Tuesday with manslaughter with a firearm, culpable negligence, battery, and two counts of assault, the Marion County Sheriff's Office said.

    "The justice we have all been seeking has been served," Sheriff Billy Woods said in a video posted Tuesday on social media.

    The arrest came amid growing pressure from Owens's family and local politicians for a stronger response to what lawyers representing the family called an "unjustified" killing.

    Around 9 p.m. Friday, deputies received a call about possible trespassing at a property in Ocala, Fla., about 40 miles south of Gainesville, Woods said Monday during a news conference. When the officers arrived, they found a woman, later identified as Owens, suffering from a gunshot wound, Woods said. They tried to save her, but she later died, Woods said.

    Following a Major Crimes Unit investigation - which included interviews with Owens's children and other witnesses and uncovered surveillance footage and other forensic and digital evidence - detectives concluded that "over a period of time, Lorincz had become angry at Owens' children, who were playing in a field close to her home."

    On Friday night, according to the sheriff's office, Lorincz "engaged in an argument with the children and was overhead yelling at them by a neighbor," throwing a roller skate at Owens's 10-year-old son that hit him in the toe. She also swung at Owens's son and his brother with an umbrella when they attempted to speak to her, the office said. When the children notified their mother, "Owens approached Lorincz's home, knocked on the door multiple times, and demanded that Lorincz come outside," the sheriff's office said.

    "Lorincz then fired one shot through the door, striking Owens in her upper chest," the sheriff's office said, adding that Owens was fatally shot with her 10-year-old son standing beside her.

    According to the sheriff's office, Lorincz told investigators that she and Owens had a history of animosity and claimed that Owens "previously attacked her." She said that she acted in self-defense in shooting Owens, "and that Owens had been trying to break down her door prior to her discharging her firearm," the office said.

    Woods previously said that before making an arrest in this case, his office had to determine whether the shooter's response was justified under Florida's stand-your-ground law, which states that a person can use deadly force if they reasonably believe it could "prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another."

    Following their investigation, "detectives were able to establish that Lorincz's actions were not justifiable under Florida law," the sheriff's office said.

    The case prompted calls for a quick arrest, amid protests in the community. Some Florida Democrats also called for the woman to be charged.

    Attorneys representing Owens's family said in a statement that they were "relieved" to learn of the arrest. But they argued it took too long and blamed the delays on "archaic laws like Stand Your Ground."

    "What does it say when a person can shoot and kill an unarmed mother in the presence of her young children, and not be immediately taken into custody, questioned, and charged?" they said in the statement.

    On Tuesday, Woods, the sheriff, applauded the work of his department that led to Lorincz's arrest and criticized what he described as efforts to rush his office.

    "The laws in the state of Florida are clear," he said. ". . . Rushing in to make an arrest is not the right thing to do sometimes. In fact, it can probably cause complications or cause errors."

    Woods described Florida's stand-your-ground law as "a great law designed to help Floridians to defend themselves and keep themselves safe."

    However, he said, the law did not apply to the shooting of Owens.

    "It was simply a killing," he said.

    - - -

    The Washington Post's Justine McDaniel contributed to this report.

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