Family members demanded justice at a news conference Monday after a mother of four was shot to death behind closed doors in Florida following a dispute with her neighbor.
No arrests have been made in the shooting death of Ajike “AJ” Owens, which took place in Ocala on Friday, although Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods said police know the identity of the shooter.
Woods said his office is working to determine what role the state will playcould play in the shootout. Under Florida’s “stand your ground” law, enacted in 2005, people can use deadly force if they feel their lives are in danger.
“Any time we think, perceive or believe that that might come into play, we can’t make an arrest. The law specifically says so,” Woods said during a separate news conference Monday. “And what we have to rule out is whether or not this deadly force was justified before we can make the arrest.”
“This is not a mystery. We know who shot,” Woods said. The sheriff’s office has not publicly identified the shooter.
Woods said police were waiting to speak with Owens’ children to get additional information out of respect for the children and also so police can make sure the right people are conducting the interviews.
The accused shooter and Owens’ children were involved in some type of dispute before the deadly incident, Woods said. From what police have been able to determine so far, there were ongoing disputes involving Owens’ children walking across a neighbor’s lawn. According to Woods, officers have responded about half a dozen times since January 2021 to calls about the ongoing “neighborhood dispute.”
On Friday, there was allegedly a confrontation between the children and the neighbor. The neighbor threw an object at the children and hit one of them, Woods said. Ben Crump, one of the attorneys representing the Owens family, said it was an iPad, while Woods said it was a pair of skateboards.
“Did they throw something at them? Yes, but not directly at them is what they’re telling us now. Unfortunately, it may have hit them,” Woods said.
Owens’ oldest son told Owens what happened, and Owens went to the neighbor’s house to confront her, Woods said. Acknowledging that his office has only been able to get “one side” of the story so far, Woods said police believe “there was aggression from both.”
“I wish our shooter would have called us instead of taking actions into his own hands,” Woods said.
“A mother of 4 was fatally shot after she reportedly knocked on the door of a white woman’s residence to retrieve her son’s iPad. Owens’ children are believed to have accidentally left the device in a field they were playing on, and the woman took it, Crump tweeted.
Speaking at a news conference Monday, Owens’ mother said the neighbor’s door was locked and remained locked during the confrontation.
“My daughter, the mother of my grandchildren, was shot to death with her 9-year-old son standing next to her,” he said. “She had no weapons, she did not pose an imminent threat to anyone.”
In nearby Flagler County, a Florida man was arrested May 27 for allegedly holding a gun to a woman’s head after her friend briefly entered his driveway, authorities said. The incident was caught on video.60, was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon with no intent to kill, according to jail records.