Florida woman fatally shot by neighbor following dispute over children playing

Francis Akhalbey June 06, 2023
Ajike “AJ” Owens was fatally shot by her White neighbor -- Photo Credit: Ben Crump

Authorities in Florida said a White woman shot and killed her Black neighbor during a heated exchange at the shooter’s home on Friday. Per NBC News, there have since been growing calls for the unidentified woman to be arrested in connection with Ajike “AJ” Owens’ shooting death.

In a statement, civil rights attorney, Ben Crump, said the shooting was “unjustified.” The White woman is said to have fatally shot Owens after she initially took issue with the deceased Black woman’s children playing in a field close to an apartment complex in Ocala. 

While Owens’ children were playing in the field, Crump said the woman “began yelling at them to get off her land and calling them racial slurs.” Though the children eventually left, the suspect took an iPad they mistakenly left in the area, Crump added. 

The woman also allegedly hit one of Owens’ children with the device after she threw it at the minor when he went back for it, causing the screen of the iPad to crack. Owens subsequently went over to her neighbor’s home to have a conversation with her after she became aware of the incident. 

“She knocked on the door, and at that point, the woman allegedly shot through the door, hitting AJ, who later died from her injuries,” Crump said.

Responding to the incident during a news conference on Monday, Marion County Sheriff, Billy Woods, said he wished the shooter had called authorities “instead of taking actions into her own hands.” Though he did not disclose if Crump’s version of the incident was true or false, Woods said he was not “going to stand here and tell you what they’re putting out there is inaccurate. It’s just I don’t know yet.”

He, however, said Owens and her neighbor had a long-standing “neighborhood feud” about the deceased Black woman’s children, NBC News reported. The law enforcement official also touched on the children being possibly hit by an unspecified object. 

“Was something thrown at them? Yes, but not directly at them of what we’re being told now,” said Woods. “It just unfortunately may have hit them.” Woods stated that the children “are a big part of answering a lot of our questions.”

Woods also said the White neighbor fatally shot Owens through her door following a heated exchange, adding that at least two of the deceased Black woman’s children likely saw the fatal incident. 

“The mother, the protector of her children, she wanted to know why this happened. A closed, locked door. The door never opened. My daughter, my grandchildren’s mother, was shot and killed with her 9-year-old son standing next to her. She had no weapon. She posed no imminent threat to anyone,” Owens’ mother, Pamela Dias, said during a news conference on Monday.

The shooter’s arrest depends on the outcome of an investigation into whether she’ll be protected by Florida’s  “stand your ground” law. Per the law, people in Florida can use deadly force as a method of defense if they feel they are in imminent danger or death, NBC News reported. A person in supposed danger can also decide not to flee, and the law can even be applied when outdoors. 

“That law has specific instructions for us and law enforcement, and any time that we think or perceive or believe that … might come into play, we cannot make an arrest,” Woods said. “The law specifically says that, and what we have to rule out is whether the deadly force was justified or not before we can even make the arrest.”

A family attorney for Owens’ family, Anthony D. Thomas, called on authorities to arrest the shooter. “We need an arrest,” Thomas said. “Make no mistake about it. We do support our sheriff. But at the same time, we want him to do the job that he promised that he would do, and we want swift justice.”

Last Edited by:Editor Updated: June 11, 2023


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