Household calls for arrest of white girl after Black mom shot in alleged dispute over her children
Authorities got here below intense strain Tuesday to arrest and cost a white girl who killed a Black neighbour on her entrance doorstep in a case that has put Florida’s divisive “stand your floor” legislation again in the highlight.
About three dozen principally Black protesters gathered exterior the Marion County Judicial Heart to demand that the shooter be arrested within the nation’s newest flashpoint over race and gun violence.
A 35-year-old mom of 4, Ajike Owens, was killed within the Friday night time capturing that Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods stated was the fruits of a two and a half yr feud between neighbours.
The ladies lived in a neighbourhood in north Florida, within the rolling hills south of Ocala, often called the state’s horse nation. On Tuesday, a stuffed teddy bear and bouquets of flowers marked the realm close to the place Owens was shot.
Close by, youngsters have been driving bikes and scooters, and taking part in basketball. Protesters chanted “No justice, no peace” and “A.J. A.J. A.J” utilizing Owens’ nickname. They carried indicators saying: “Say her identify Ajike Owens” and “It is about us.” There was no violence throughout the protest, which included various babies.
The sheriff stated Owens was shot moments after going to the residence of her neighbour, who had yelled at Owens’ youngsters as they performed in a close-by lot. He additionally stated a neighbour had thrown a pair of skates that hit one of many youngsters.
Deputies responding to a trespassing name on the residence Friday night time discovered Owens affected by gunshot wounds. She later died at a hospital in Ocala.
Earlier than the confrontation, the shooter had been yelling racial slurs on the youngsters, in keeping with a press release from civil rights legal professional Benjamin Crump, who’s representing Owens’ household — and represented Trayvon Martin’s household in 2012. The sheriff’s workplace hasn’t confirmed there have been slurs uttered or stated whether or not race was an element within the capturing.
Lauren Smith, 40, lives throughout the road from the place the capturing occurred. She was on her porch that day and noticed one of many Owens’ younger sons pacing, and yelling, “They shot my mama, they shot my mama.”
She ran towards the home and began chest compressions till a rescue crew arrived. She stated there wasn’t an altercation and that Owens did not have a weapon.
“[The shooter] was indignant on a regular basis that the kids have been taking part in on the market,” Smith stated. “She would say nasty issues to them. Simply nasty.”
Smith, who’s white, stated the neighbourhood is “family-friendly” and the truth that the shooter is claiming self-defence is “outrageous.”
“I want our shooter would have known as us as a substitute of taking actions into her personal arms,” the sheriff stated Monday. “I want Ms. Owens would have known as us within the hopes we may have by no means gotten to the purpose at which we’re right here at the moment.”
Taking pictures ‘so mindless’
The sheriff stated that since January 2021, deputies responded not less than a half-dozen occasions in reference to the feuding between Owens and the girl who shot her.
“I am completely heartbroken,” Angela Ferrell-Zabala, govt director of Mothers Demand Motion for Gun Sense in America, instructed The Related Press. She described the deadly capturing as “so mindless.”
Ferrell-Zabala stated “stand your floor” circumstances, which she refers to as “shoot first legal guidelines,” are deemed justifiable 5 occasions extra often when a white shooter kills a Black sufferer.
“We have seen this time and again throughout this nation,” she stated, including that “it is actually due to lax gun legal guidelines and a tradition of shoot first.”
Stand your floor circumstances spark outrage
In truth, “stand your floor” and “fortress doctrine” circumstances — which permit residents to defend themselves both by legislation or court docket precedent when threatened — have sparked outrage amid a spate of shootings throughout the nation.
In April, 84-year-old Andrew Lester, a white man, shot and injured 16-year-old Ralph Yarl, a Black teenager who rang his doorbell in Kansas Metropolis after mistakenly exhibiting up on the improper home to select up his youthful siblings.
Lester faces expenses of first-degree assault and armed prison motion; at trial, he might argue that he thought somebody was making an attempt to interrupt into his home, as he instructed police.
Missouri and Florida are amongst about 30 states which have “stand your floor” legal guidelines.
One of the crucial well-known examples of the “stand your floor” argument got here up within the trial of George Zimmerman, a white man who fatally shot Florida teenager Trayvon Martin in February 2012.
Zimmerman, who had a white father and Hispanic mom, instructed police that Martin, who was Black, attacked him, forcing him to make use of his gun in self-defence. He was allowed to go free, however was arrested about six weeks later, after Martin’s dad and mom questioned his model of occasions and then-governor Rick Scott appointed a particular prosecutor.
Earlier than trial, Zimmerman’s attorneys selected to not pursue a “stand your floor” declare, which may have resulted within the dismissal of homicide modifications in addition to immunity from prosecution. However throughout the trial, the legislation was primarily used as a part of his self-defence argument. Jurors discovered him not responsible.
Since Zimmerman’s trial, Crump has change into outspoken on circumstances of gun violence.
Household in search of justice
The sheriff was joined at his information convention by group leaders and a neighborhood legal professional retained by the household, Anthony Thomas. Their singular message was a name for endurance whereas the sheriff’s workplace carried out its investigation.
Police have not interviewed Owens’ youngsters, two of whom witnessed the capturing, as a result of investigators first need youngster therapists to work with them. A lot of the info the deputies have is coming from the shooter, the sheriff stated.
“There was loads of aggressiveness from each of them, forwards and backwards,” the sheriff stated the shooter instructed investigators. “Whether or not it’s banging on the doorways, banging on the partitions and threats being made. After which at that second is when Ms. Owens was shot by the door.”
At a vigil with the household later Monday, Thomas stated the sheriff had promised him essentially the most skilled service that he and his deputies may present, and Thomas plans to carry the company to that.
Throughout the identical gathering, Owens’ mom, Pamela Dias, stated that she was in search of justice for her daughter and her grandchildren.
“My daughter, my grandchildren’s mom, was shot and killed along with her nine-year-old son standing subsequent to her,” Dias stated. “She had no weapon. She posed no imminent menace to anybody.”