Cops: Neighbor Angry About Kids Playing Killed Their Mom

Florida woman has not been arrested as investigation continues
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 6, 2023 3:00 AM CDT
Cops: Neighbor Who Was Angry About Kids Playing Killed Their Mom
In this frame grab from video broadcast by the Marion County Sheriff's Office, Sheriff Billy Woods speaks at a news conference, in Ocala, Fla., Monday, June 5, 2023.   (Courtesy of Marion County Sheriff's Office via AP)

A Florida mother was fatally shot through a door outside a neighbor's home after what officials characterized on Monday as a 2 1/2-year feud over children playing, the AP reports. Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods said at a news conference Monday that deputies responding to a trespassing call at an Ocala home on Friday night found Ajike Owens suffering from gunshot wounds. The 35-year-old mother of four was taken to a nearby hospital, where she died. Since January 2021, Woods said, deputies have responded at least a half-dozen times in connection with the feuding between Owens and the woman who eventually shot her. The sheriff's office hasn't arrested or identified the shooter, though calls are mounting for an arrest to be made.

Woods said detectives are working with the State Attorney's Office, and they must investigate possible self-defense claims before they can move forward with any possible criminal charges. The sheriff pointed out that because of Florida's “stand your ground” law, he can't legally make an arrest unless he can prove the shooter did not act in self-defense. Before the shooting, Owens' children had been playing in a field near the shooter's apartment complex, officials said. At some point, the woman yelled at the children and threw a pair of skates, which hit one of the children, Woods said. When Owens later confronted the woman at her apartment, an argument ensued, and the woman shot Owens through the front door, investigators said.

Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who is representing Owens' family, said in a statement that the shooter had been yelling racial slurs at the children before the confrontation with their mother. Owens and her children are Black. The sheriff's office hasn't confirmed there were slurs uttered or said whether race was a factor in the shooting, but Crump says the unidentified shooter is a 58-year-old white woman, NBC News reports. Crump says that after the alleged shooter yelled at the kids, one of them accidentally left an iPad behind, and the woman took it. Crump says when the child went to get it back, the woman threw it, hitting him and cracking the screen. Owens went over to her house to talk to her about that when she was fatally shot, Crump says.

(More Florida stories.)

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