OCALA, Fla. – Activists and family members thanked the Marion County sheriff for the arrest of the suspect in the shooting death of an Ocala mother on Wednesday, but said the work to get justice for Ajike Owens was not done.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump joined Owens’ family, as well as local black leaders, at a news conference in Ocala, to thank not only Sheriff Bill Woods for the arrest of Susan Louise Lorincz, but also activists who he said kept up the pressure.
“We have to remember now this is only the first step for justice,” Crump said. “The state attorney, now that Sheriff Woods has done his job, he now has a job to do and that is to zealously prosecute the killer of AJ Owens. We want him to zealously prosecute the killer of AJ Owens, just like he would do if the roles had been reversed and a black woman had shot a white woman in front of her children through a locked metal door.”
Lorincz is white and Owens is black, though there is no indication at this time that race played a factor in the shooting.
Woods said an arrest in the case was delayed as they investigated whether the shooting fell within the guidelines of Florida’s Stand Your Ground law.
Lorincz, 58, was arrested Tuesday. Deputies said Lorincz shot Owens through a door when the victim tried to confront the suspect. According to deputies, Owens learned Lorincz took an iPad from her four children and threw roller skates at them.
The fatal shooting was the culmination of a constant issue over an over 2-year period, with several calls to law enforcement.
A neighbor who helped Owens’ children the night of the shooting said Lorencz often antagonized children in the neighborhood, including her own. The neighbor said Lorencz would use racial slurs and other insults against the children.
The family of Ajike Owens just spoke in Ocala, alongside their attorney Ben Crump. This comes after the woman accused of shooting and killing her through a front door has been charged. pic.twitter.com/EJ7W5uGWNG— Jerry Askin (@JerryAskinNews6) June 7, 2023
However, she said, law enforcement said there was nothing they could do.
“I am very grateful for an arrest,” said Pamela Dias, Owens’ mother. “Very disappointed that it took four days, honestly. When is it OK in America to shoot someone behind a locked door? Why did it have to take four days?”
Crump said he was especially relieved about the arrest because it meant the family could tell the children that this shooting was not their fault.
“I’m so relieved because you can only imagine how confused they are right now,” Crump said.
Dias said Owens’ 12-year-old boy “blames himself for the death of his mother because he couldn’t save her.”
“His words were, ‘Grandma, grandma, I couldn’t save her because I couldn’t give her CPR,’” Dias said.
The family is particularly concerned about Owens’ 9-year-old son, who ran and told his mother what had happened.
“Feeling like it’s his fault. He wished he wouldn’t have said nothing about the iPad because then that means his mother would still be alive,” Crump said.
Lorincz was arrested and faces charges of manslaughter with a firearm, culpable negligence, battery and two counts of assault. But Crump said the family hopes the state attorney will upgrade the charges because they want Lorincz charged to the “fullest extent of the law.”
“We should all let the state attorney know if you feel he should be looking to increase the charges, that is why you elected him,” Crump said.
Members of the community told News 6 how Owens’ death made them feel.
“If we don’t get justice for A.J., and we don’t get the correct conviction for Ms. Susan? Oh, it’s gonna get worse,” said Cicely Robertson, a team mom for the Marion County Red Hawks’ football and cheer program — just like Owens was.
Owens’ sons were on the football team, and her daughter cheered beside them under cheer coordinator Laquanitia Webb.
“It’s not even enough words to put together to describe how devastating this is, you know, to us, to her children,” Webb told News 6.
Gregory Watts, the team’s vice president, said he was shocked to learn about Owens’ death.
“My hear, soul, sympathy go out to that kid because you know he has to holler. He had to scream,” Watts said.
In the meantime, several black leaders urged people to join groups that are working to deal with gun violence in the community, like the NAACP and the Marion County Children’s Alliance.
“We can’t have a society that settles all of our difference with violence,” Crump said. “We’re better than that, we’re better than that, America.”
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