The family of a Black mother who was fatally shot through a front door by a white neighbor who had allegedly hurled racial slurs in the past say they are “elated” by the neighbor’s arrest—but disappointed that it only came after days of protests and outrage.
Susan Lorincz, 58, was on Tuesday charged with manslaughter with a firearm in relation to the death of 35-year-old Ajike “AJ” Owens last week, according to the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.
“I am elated that there was an arrest. It’s disappointing that it took so long to happen,” Owens’ mother, Pamela Dias, told MSNBC Wednesday. “My daughter was shot behind a locked door. …It was a senseless act that didn’t have to happen. I am left to care for three precious grandbabies because their mother was taken away from them. It’s devastating, it’s heartbreaking.”
She said it has been unbearable to see her grandchildren lose their mother; two of them witnessed the shooting in Ocala, Florida, on Friday night. “The grief, the pain…words could never, never, explain how I feel and how my babies feel, how AJ’s babies feel,” she said.
Authorities said that a Major Crimes Unit investigation found that the killing began with Lorincz becoming “angry at Owens’ children” as they played in a field near her home. Neighbors said the woman, who had previously shouted racial slurs at Owens’ kids as well as other children in the neighborhood, took the kids’ iPad after they accidentally left it behind.
When the children went back for the tablet, Lorincz allegedly threw a roller skate at Owens’ 10-year-old son and swung at her children with an umbrella, according to authorities. When they told their mom what happened, Owens knocked on Lorincz’s door multiple times and demanded that Lorincz come outside—it was then that authorities say Lorincz fired a single, fatal shot through the door.
Lorincz allegedly claimed she’d acted in self-defense, and Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods initially said he wasn’t able to arrest her due to Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which requires cops to rule out self-defense.
That changed on Tuesday, however, after “detectives were able to establish that Lorincz’s actions were not justifiable under Florida law,” the sheriff’s office said.
The Owens family’s attorney, Ben Crump, urged prosecutors to factor in Lorincz’s alleged history of racial abuse, telling MSNBC that there was a “plethora of witnesses” in the neighborhood who described Lorincz as “a menace to the neighborhood, not just to AJ’s children, but all the children, calling them racial epithets, calling them the n-word, calling them profane names, saying that this is not the Underground Railroad.”
(One neighbor, Ashley Remy, told WFTV that almost everyone in the area had called police in the past about Lorincz yelling at children and calling them names.)
“She did not deserve to be taken from the earth in this manner,” Crump said as he gathered with the family and other supporters on Tuesday. “That’s something we have to keep screaming at the top of our lungs: Justice for A.J.!”
“Say her name!” the group shouted together.
In a GoFundMe page set up on behalf of her daughter, Dias described Owens as “a devoted and loving mother of four” who was “tragically and unjustifiably murdered in an attempt to protect her children from racism and violence.”
Lorincz’s manslaughter charge could be punishable by 30 years imprisonment. She is also charged with culpable negligence, battery, and two counts of assault.
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