Black Florida mother killed by white neighbor remembers her faith and devotion to 4 children

OCALA, Fla. (AP) — Leaders and civil rights ministers have demanded justice for a black mother who was shot in front of her 9-year-old son by a white neighbor shooting through the door of her central Florida home during of a memorial service Monday at which Ajike Owens was remembered for her deep faith and devotion to her children.

During a three-hour service at a church in Ocala, Florida, the Reverend Al Sharpton, civil rights lawyer Ben Crump and others linked Owens’ death to the murders of other black Americans in recent years, like Trayvon Martin by a neighborhood watch. volunteer in Florida and George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis.

“You can’t kill our loved ones, just because of the color of their skin, just because they lived while they were black,” Crump said. “We can’t let them kill our loved ones for just knocking on a door, for loving their children, while Black.”

Owens, a 35-year-old mother of four, nicknamed “AJ,” was killed June 2 in Ocala, about 133 miles north of Orlando. His neighbor, Susan Louise Lorincz, 58, was charged with the first degree felony of manslaughter with a firearm, as well as culpable negligence, battery and two counts of assault.

Neighbors said Lorincz frequently called neighborhood kids who played outside her house with racial slurs and upset them, and that’s what happened 10 days ago when she yelled at the kids in Owens as they were playing nearby and threw a pair of skates that hit one of them, according to the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.

Lorincz told investigators she acted in self-defense and that Owens tried to break down her door before Lorincz fired the gun. But Sheriff Billy Woods said last week that the investigation, which included statements from eyewitnesses, had established that Lorincz’s actions were not justifiable under Florida law. Prior to Lorincz’s arrest, the sheriff had said that because of the “Hold On” law, he could only make an arrest if he could prove the shooter had not acted in self-defense.

Stand your ground and ‘Castle Doctrine’ cases – which allow residents to defend themselves either by law or legal precedent when threatened – have sparked outrage amid a string of shootings across the country.

“We’re going to hold on for the humanity of AJ,” Crump said. “We will defend our position to bring justice to AJ.”

Crump and Sharpton both urged the Owens children not to blame themselves in any way for what happened.

“Your mother chose to put herself in harm’s way for you,” Sharpton said. “That’s what mothers do. That’s why we celebrate your mother.

On a pulpit adorned with pink and lavender flowers, relatives and friends described Owens as a woman of deep faith, who ensured her children were baptized, and she attended church regularly, sometimes dragging down an unwilling relative.

Owens’ mother, Pamela Dias, said she will now be raising her four young grandchildren, aged 3 to 12. Local ministers promised them scholarships to historically black colleges in Florida during the memorial service.

“Please don’t let our baby girl’s death be in vain,” Dias said. “A change must come.”

Leave a Comment