White Florida Woman Who Shot & Killed Her Black Neighbor Has Yet to Be Arrested

The county sheriff's office is determining whether the 58-year-old white woman who shot Ajike Owens in front of her kids abided by Stand Your Ground laws.

White Florida Woman Who Shot & Killed Her Black Neighbor Has Yet to Be Arrested
Screenshot:Ben Crump/Twitter, 10 Tampa Bay/YouTube

A 58-year-old, unnamed white woman in Florida has yet to face arrest for shooting and killing her Black woman neighbor, Ajike Owens, through her locked front door on Friday evening.

Pressure from local activists and community members is mounting on the Marion County Sheriff’s office to make an arrest, after Sheriff Billy Woods confirmed at a Monday press conference that his investigators are still determining whether the 58-year-old woman was abiding by the state’s Stand Your Ground laws. Stand Your Ground laws permit citizens to defend themselves with deadly force if they fear they’re in imminent danger—but Owens was unarmed and in the presence of her young children, and her white neighbor was behind a locked door.

Ben Crump, an attorney for Owens’ family, said in a statement on Monday that the conflict began when Owens’ young children were playing in a field near their apartment complex. Their 58-year-old neighbor allegedly“began yelling at them to get off her land and calling them racial slurs.” The children then fled the field and accidentally left behind an iPad, which the neighbor took for herself. When the kids went to her home to retrieve it, Crump says the white woman threw it, hitting one of the children and cracking the screen.

This confrontation between the kids and the 58-year-old woman prompted Owens to come to her neighbor’s home. “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.

Woods on Monday declined to confirm or dispute this version of events at a press conference, telling reporters the case is still under investigation. Owens’ kids, he said, “are a big part of answering a lot [of] our questions.” According to Woods, there was a heated confrontation between Owens and the neighbor through the door, and two of Owens’ four children may have witnessed the shooting.

“This is not a whodunnit. We know who did the shooting,” Woods said, adding that he “[wished] our shooter would have called us instead of taking actions into her own hands.” Despite this, the sheriff said the shooter has not yet been arrested due to the state’s Stand Your Ground laws. “Any time that we think or perceive or believe that that might come into play, we cannot make an arrest. The law specifically says that,” he said, adding, “What we have to rule out is whether this deadly force was justified or not before we can even make the arrest.”

Ben Crump Law did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Jezebel on the case. Anthony D. Thomas, another attorney working with the Owens family at Crump’s firm, on Monday called for Owens’ neighbor to be arrested and charged for Owens’ death at a press conference. “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,” Thomas told reporters.

The Marion County NAACP president, Bishop J. David Stockton III, also spoke in support of Owens’ family and criticized the culture of racist violence that precipitated Owens’ killing. “The truth is we’ve gotten to a point where Black folks are almost living in a day where we are afraid to go outside,” Stockton told reporters. “Our children and adults deserve to live in a world where they do not live in fear of their neighbors.”

Owens’ tragic shooting death in front of her children comes after a wave of national headlines about shootings and killings of people for sometimes accidentally stepping on an armed homeowner’s property. Race has often played a role in who’s targeted and perceived by homeowners as dangerous. Before Owens was shot by a white woman who allegedly spewed racial slurs at her children, in April, a teenager named Ralph Yarl was shot by an 84-year-old white homeowner who claimed Yarl had threatened his life by merely ringing his doorbell.

As the Marion County Sheriff’s office investigates whether Owens’ neighbor abided by Florida’s Stand Your Ground laws, these laws have historically been used to justify racist killings or enable political violence, as we saw when Kyle Rittenhouse was permitted to walk free after killing several Black Lives Matter protesters in 2020. Southern Poverty Law Center has said that Stand Your Ground Laws “allow for highly uneven application by law enforcement and the legal system” and “race and gender are significant factors” in who is and isn’t punished for supposed self-defense.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin