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White woman charged after shooting through her door and killing Black mother in front of her son

Susan Lorincz avoided a murder charge after prosecutors decided she had not shown ‘hatred, spite, ill will or evil intent’ in the fatal 2 June shooting of Ajike Owens in Ocala, Florida

Bevan Hurley
Monday 26 June 2023 23:24 BST
Funeral for Ajike 'AJ' Owens

A white woman accused of fatally shooting a Black neighbour through her door in front of two of the victim’s young children has been charged with manslaughter.

Susan Lorincz, 58, claimed she feared for her life when she fatally shot 35-year-old mother-of-four Ajike “AJ” Owens in Ocala, Florida, on 2 June.

Owens’ family, as well as attorneys and community leaders, had called for Ms Lorincz to be charged with second-degree murder.

State Attorney William Gladson said his office had decided on a charge of manslaughter after finding insufficient evidence that Ms Lorincz had “hatred, spite, ill will or evil intent” toward Owens.

“As deplorable as the defendant’s actions were in this case, there is insufficient evidence to prove this specific and required element of second-degree murder,” Mr Gladson said in a statement obtained by the Associated Press.

Ms Lorincz told investigators she had been “disrespected” for several years by children in the neighbourhood — including by Owens’ children, who are aged 12, nine, seven and three.

On the day of the shooting, Ms Lorincz said she had a headache and that local kids had been running and yelling outside of her apartment, according to an arrest report from the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.

Susan Lorincz haș been charged with the manslaughter of her neighbour Ajike Owens (Marion County Sheriff’s Office)

That evening, Ms Lorincz scolded the children and threw a pair of roller skates at them, hitting one of them on the foot.

The arrest report stated that Owens then came over and knocked on her door to confront her.

Ms Lorincz told investigators that Owens threatened to kill her and banged on the door so hard she feared Owens would break it down.

Ms Lorincz fired a single round from a .380-calibre handgun, which went through the closed door and fatally struck Owens, according to the sheriff’s report.

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office also said that surveillance footage contradicted her claims that she was in fear of her life.

She was arrested four days after the shooting on suspicion of manslaughter with a firearm, culpable negligence, battery and two counts of assault.

Pamela Dias, second from right, at a remembrance service for her daughter Ajike ‘AJ’ Owens (Associated Press)

After weighing whether Florida’s “stand your ground” laws would be applicable in the case, Mr Lorincz was formally charged with manslaughter and assault on Monday.

“I am aware of the desire of the family, and some community members, that the defendant be charged with second-degree murder,” State Attorney Gladson said.

“My obligation as State Attorney is to follow the law in each case that I prosecute.”

Anthony Thomas, an attorney for Owens' family, said the decision to file the lesser charge was a disappointment.

“We firmly believe that justice demands nothing less,” Mr Thomas said in a statement to the Associated Press.

“The failure of the prosecutor to charge Susan with what truly reflected her wanton, reckless behavior undermines our ability to even get real accountability.”

Ms Lorincz faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted.

The incident was one of several around the country that involved homeowners shooting members of the public.

In April, 17-year-old Ralph Yarl was critically injured when he was shot in the head and arm after mistakenly ringing the wrong doorbell while trying to pick up his younger siblings in Kansas City, Missouri.

White homeowner Andrew Lester, 84, has been charged with one count of felony assault in the first-degree and one count of armed criminal action after shooting the unarmed Black teenager through his door.

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