Calls are growing for the arrest of a woman accused of shooting her neighbour, a mother of four, after she complained that the victim’s children were playing outside.
The children of Ajike ‘AJ’ Owens were playing in a field near an apartment complex in Ocala, Florida on Friday when his neighbor “started yelling at them to get off his lot and calling them racial slurs “, said the famous civil rights lawyer Ben Crump. said.
The kids then accidentally left behind an iPad after leaving the field, Crump said, before returning to pick it up.
But the neighbour, a 58-year-old white woman, who has not been named, had taken the iPad and thrown it at one of Ms Owens’ children, hitting the boy and causing the screen to crack. said the lawyer.
The mother-of-four then walked across the street to speak with the neighbor after hearing about the incident.
The neighbor then fired through the door, shooting Ms Owens. She later died in hospital from her injuries.
Police have so far made no arrests following Ms Owen’s death. Although Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods confirmed that police know the identity of the shooter, he said authorities are working to determine what role state “hold your ground” law might play. in the incident.
Under Florida’s “stand your ground” law, people are essentially allowed to use deadly force if they feel their life is in danger.
Family lawyer Ben Crump tweeted a picture of Ms Owen (pictured) on Monday. “This is Ajike ‘AJ’ Owens – a mother of four who was shot and killed after apparently knocking on the door of a white woman’s residence to retrieve her child’s iPad.”
Although police have confirmed they know the identity of the shooter, authorities are working to determine what role the state’s “Hold Your Grips” law may be playing in the incident, the county sheriff said. Marion, Billy Woods, at a press conference on Monday.
‘Every time we think or perceive or believe that [the ‘stand your ground’ law] could come into play, we cannot make an arrest. The law specifically says that,’ Woods said at a Monday news conference.
“And what we have to rule out is whether or not that lethal force was justified before we could even make the arrest.
Woods said detectives are working with the state’s attorney’s office and need to investigate possible allegations of self-defense before they can pursue possible criminal charges.
‘It’s not a thriller. We know who fired,” Woods said. The Marion County Sheriff’s Office has yet to publicly identify the shooter.
Speaking at the press conference, Sheriff Woods also did not confirm or deny Crump’s account of the event. He said he was “not going to sit here and tell you what they post is inaccurate”. It’s just that I don’t know yet.
Woods said they did not interview Owens’ children, who witnessed the shooting, because investigators want expert children to work with the children. So most of the information deputies have comes from the shooter, Woods said.
Woods acknowledged that Owen’s children were engaged in an argument with the neighbor before the shooting over their presence on his lawn. He said officers have responded half a dozen times to complaints about the ongoing feud since January 2021.
Woods said the neighbor threw an object at one of the children and inadvertently hit them. He said it was a pair of skates while Crump said it was an iPad.
‘Has something been thrown at them?.’ Woods explained. ‘Yes, but not directly on them from what we are told now. Unfortunately, they may have hit them.
He added: “Children play an important role in answering many of our questions.”
The children of Ajike ‘AJ’ Owens hold back tears during a press conference held at the New St. John Missionary Baptist Church, Ocala, Florida on Monday
Lawrence Collins (left), brother of Ajike ‘AJ’ Owens, holds hands with friend Charise Thomas (right) during a press conference held at the New St. John Missionary Baptist Church, Ocala, Florida, Monday
Woods said police understood a heated exchange that had taken place between Ms Owens and the neighbour, describing it as ‘aggressiveness on both sides’. However, he said police have only been able to get one side of the story so far.
‘Whether knocking on doors, knocking on walls and making threats. And then at that moment was when Mrs. Owens was shot through the door.
Woods concluded, “I wish our shooter had called us instead of taking action on his hands.”
Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who represents Owens’ family, said in a statement that the shooter shouted racial slurs at the children before the confrontation with their mother. Owens and his children are black. The sheriff’s office did not confirm that there were slurs uttered or say whether race was a factor in the shooting.
Crump tweeted a photo of Ms Owens on Monday. ‘This is Ajike ‘AJ’ Owens – a mother of four who was shot and killed after apparently knocking on the door of a white woman’s residence to retrieve her child’s iPad.
“It is believed the Owens children accidentally left the device in a field they were playing in and the woman took it.”
He told reporters that the fact there had been no arrests yet was “appalling”.
“It’s stupid when they try to justify this unjustifiable murder of this mother of four who was killed in front of her children. It’s heartbreaking on every level,’ he said CNN.
Woods was joined at his press conference by community leaders and a local lawyer retained by the family, Anthony Thomas. Their singular message was a plea for patience while the sheriff’s office conducted its investigation.
Ben Crump told reporters that the fact that there were no arrests yet was “appalling”. He is pictured arriving at federal court in New York, May 2
“It’s stupid when they try to justify this unjustifiable murder of this mother of four,” Crump told CNN on Monday.
At a vigil with the family later Monday, Thomas said the sheriff promised him the most professional service he and his deputies could provide, and Thomas plans to hold the agency to that.
During the same rally, Owens’ mother, Pamela Dias, said she was demanding justice for her daughter and grandchildren.
“My daughter, the mother of my grandchildren, was shot and killed with her 9-year-old son standing next to her,” Dias said. “She had no weapon. She posed no imminent threat to anyone.
This is just the latest incident involving Florida’s controversial “Hold Your Grips” law.
In April, one of two men who shot each other’s daughters in a road rage incident had his charges dropped after prosecutors ruled he acted in self-defense in under the law.
Frank Allison, 44, opened fire on William Hale, 36, after the pair began swerving and dragging each other down on a Florida highway last year. He shot Hale’s car after the 36-year-old threw a water bottle into his car during the fight.
But authorities ruled his first shooting was justifiable under Florida self-defense law, determining that Hale was responsible for the ensuing chaos.
Florida’s “Hold On” Law – What Does It Cover?
In Florida, you are allowed to use deadly force in self-defense if you believe you are at risk of being killed or seriously injured by another person.
But unlike the laws of other states, you don’t have to try to get away before engaging in deadly force.
People may say “hold on” when they think there is a valid reason why they are about to be the victim of a serious crime.
But the statue states that it cannot be used to defend someone who engages in criminal activity.
People also cannot invoke the law if they use deadly force against a law enforcement officer in the line of duty.
You can only use “stand your ground” if the person is in a place where they are legally allowed to be – that way someone won’t be able to use the law while they break into the house of someone, for example.
According to Florida Statutes Chapter 776: “A person is justified in using or threatening to use deadly force if he or she reasonably believes that the use or threat to use such force is necessary to avoid imminent death. or grievous bodily harm to himself or another person”. or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible crime.
“A person who uses or threatens to use lethal force in accordance with this paragraph is under no obligation to retreat and has the right to stand if the person using or threatening to use lethal force does not is not engaged in any criminal activity and is in a place where he has a right to be.