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OCALA, Fla.–A grieving Black Florida family demands justice after a white neighbor who assaulted children and called them the n-word shot their mother who approached her door. No arrest has been made even though local law enforcement know the identity of the shooter.
What began as a family feud at a housing complex in Ocala morphed into an alleged “unjust killing” on Friday after 35-year-old Ajike “AJ” Shantrell Owens tried to confront the woman who assaulted her children and hurled racial slurs at them for playing in the yard.
Owens went to the neighbor’s door to retrieve an iPad she had allegedly stolen from the children, the family says.
Moments after approaching the locked door, the white neighbor shot Owens through the door.
“She loved them with all her being. To know her is to know that her kids were her everything,” said Pamela Dias, Owens’ mother, according to WESH 2 News. “My baby was so full of life.
While the sheriff is currently investigating the latest instance of white vigilantism, the woman has not been charged or arrested.
Representing the family, civil rights attorney Ben Crump is demanding immediate action from law enforcement.
“The unidentified woman, who allegedly shot our client through the door, HASN’T been arrested or charged with anything by law enforcement for the unjust killing,” Crump tweeted on Monday.
What happened to Ajike “AJ” Owens?
Speaking to reporters at a press conference on Monday, Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods said the shooting was a culmination of over two years of friction between the two families. Woods said Owens and the neighbor have called the police on each other “six to eight times,” the Guardian reported.
The incident began on Friday when the white neighbor stepped outside and began harassing a group of Black children playing in the yard, neighbors told the Ocala StarBanner. The woman allegedly called the children the n-word and “slave” before throwing a pair of skates at them and retreating back inside.
Neighbors say the mother of the children went to approach the white neighbor after she discovered the neighbor had taken an iPad the children accidentally left behind. The sheriff said he couldn’t confirm the woman stole the iPad, but did confirm that she threw the skates at the children.
“Somebody threw something at my child, I’d be pissed off,” sheriff Woods said. “What parent wouldn’t be? Who wouldn’t be upset at that, regardless of whether they intentionally threw it at them or not?
Neighbors who spoke to the Ocala StarBanner at a candlelight vigil on Monday said they rushed to try to save Owens as she lay on the grass fighting for her life.
“I’m pretty numb,” Lauren Smith said.
White neighbor shooting unarmed people trending
For many Black Floridians, the killing of unarmed Ajike Owens represents a long legacy of racist vigilante lynchings.
The Equal Justice Initiative refers to mob killings of Black people between 1877 and 1950. Out of more than 4,000 reported lynchings during the Post-Reconstruction Era, white mobs orchestrated 319 of them in Florida.
The incident also comes weeks after other shootings of young people who went to the wrong house.
Seventeen-year-old Ralph Yarl recently joined a walk to raise awareness for brain injuries after miraculously surviving being shot in the head in April. A neighbor in Kansas City, Missouri, shot him at point-blank range after Yarl rung his doorbell seeking to pick up his little brother.
In New York, days after the shooting of Yarl, 20-year-old Kaylin Gillis was shot dead after pulling into the wrong driveway. That same month, two cheerleaders were shot and wounded in Texas after accidentally opening someone else’s car door.
Sheriff delays charges over Florida “Stand Your Ground” law
Outrage is mounting over local law enforcements’ refusal to immediately press charges, but Sheriff Woods said he isn’t ready to rush to judgement.
According to Florida law, a person has the right to use deadly force and “no duty to retreat” if they are in their home and feel threatened.
“A lot of people don’t understand is that the law has specific instructions for us in law enforcement,” Sheriff Woods said. “Anytime that we think or perceive or believe that that may come into play, we cannot make an arrest. The law specifically says that. What we have to rule out is whether the deadly force was justified or not before we can even make the arrest.”
A GoFundMe for the family has raised over $62,000.