OCALA, Fla. – Pressure mounted on authorities Tuesday as they faced calls to press charges against a woman who fatally shot her neighbor on her doorstep, invoking Florida’s controversial ‘stand your ground’ law, which grants significant leeway to the shooter claiming self-defense.
Ajike Owens, a 35-year-old mother of four, was killed in the shooting that occurred on Friday night, marking the end of a 2½-year-long dispute between neighbors in Marion County, officials said.
Sheriff Billy Woods says that Owens was shot shortly after knocking on her neighbor’s apartment door. Woods says the neighbor fired through the door, striking Owens.
Deputies responded to a trespassing call at the apartment on Friday night, discovering Owens with gunshot wounds. She was later pronounced dead at an Ocala hospital.
Before the fatal incident, the neighbor reportedly yelled at Owens’ children while they were playing in a nearby lot. Additionally, another neighbor had reportedly thrown a pair of skates that struck one of the children.
“I wish our shooter would have called us instead of taking actions into her own hands,” Sheriff Owens said at a news conference. “I wish Ms. Owens would have called us in the hopes we could have never gotten to the point at which we are here today.”
“There was a lot of aggressiveness from both of them, back and forth,” Wood said. “Whether it be banging on the doors, banging on the walls and threats being made. And then at that moment is when Ms. Owens was shot through the door.”
According to a statement from attorney Benjamin Crump, who is representing Owens’ family, the shooter had directed racial slurs at the children before the altercation. However, the sheriff’s office has not confirmed the use of slurs or determined whether race played a role in the shooting. The sheriff mentioned that since January 2021, deputies had responded to the feuds between Owens and the woman who ultimately shot her on at least six occasions.
Sheriff Woods emphasized the need for patience as the sheriff’s office conducted its investigation, urging the community to await the findings before drawing conclusions.