An Ocala., Fla., mother was fatally shot through the front door of her neighbor’s home while her 9-year-old son stood next to her, a culmination of what police said was a 2½-year feud, the Associated Press reports. Ajike Owens, 35, was fatally shot after going to the apartment of her neighbor, who had yelled at Owens’ children as they played nearby and threw a pair of skates that hit one of them, said Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods. Deputies responding to a trespassing call at the apartment Friday night found Owens suffering from gunshot wounds. The mother of four was taken to a nearby hospital, where she died. Ocala is 70 miles northwest of Orlando.
“I wish our shooter would have called us instead of taking actions into her own hands,” Woods said. “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.” Since January 2021, deputies responded at least a half-dozen times in connection with the feuding between Owens and the woman who shot her. The sheriff’s office hasn’t arrested or named the shooter. Detectives are working with the State Attorney’s Office and must investigate possible self-defense claims before they can move forward with any possible criminal charges. The sheriff said that under 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. Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who is representing Owens’ family, said the shooter had been yelling racial slurs at the children before the confrontation with their mother. Owens and her children are Black.