A white woman accused of shooting dead a Black mother-of-four who confronted her for scolding the victim’s son has made her first court appearance.
Susan Lorincz, 58, was arraigned on Thursday at Marion County Courthouse on charges of manslaughter with a firearm, culpable negligence, battery and two counts of assault in the shooting of Ajike ‘AJ’ Owens, 35.
Authorities said earlier this week that Ms Lorincz shot Owens through her front door on the night of 2 June. Moments before the shot was fired, Owens had confronted Ms Lorincz, who allegedly yelled at the victim’s children as they played in a nearby lot and threw a pair of rollerskates that hit one of the kids.
Ms Lorincz has previously said she was prompted to open fire because she “feared for her life.” But Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods has refuted that narrative, claiming that video surveillance clearly contradicts her version of events.
“There are things that people say that we’re able to prove is a yellow flag, a bulls**t flag, and say no that is wrong,” he told WFTV. “She couldn’t see through the door, she couldn’t see the individual. So her comments that she was in fear for her life… raises the hair on the back of our neck.”
Ms Lorincz was arrested four days after the shooting, as authorities evaluated what role Florida’s “stand your ground” laws played in the shooting. She was finally taken into custody on Tuesday.
On Thursday, a judge was unable to set a bond for Ms Lorincz because prosecutors have yet to file a pretrial motion. Wearing a suicide vest as she appeared in court, Ms Lorincz said that she was financially unstable and owed upwards of $20,000 in car payments.
Ms Lorincz also said she filed for disability a week before the shooting and does not currently have a job.
According to an incident report obtained by The Independent, Owens’ children told deputies responding to the scene that they witnessed Ms Lorincz shooting their mother. Prominent civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Owens’ family, alleged that Ms Lorincz had been yelling racial slurs at the children, but that has not been confirmed by the sheriff’s office.
The tragedy followed a long history of altercations between the victim and her alleged killer. Since January 2021, Mr 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.
“She was angry all the time that the children were playing out there,” neighbour Lauren Smith told The Associated Press. “She would say nasty things to them. Just nasty.”
Another neighbour told NBC News that several parents in the apartment complex had called the police after having issues with Ms Lorincz.
“It’s an apartment complex. These are children who, you know, they’re going to do things,’ Phylis Willis told the outlet. “Every time they went even in the patch of grass over there, she would be like, ‘Get off of my lawn, you b******, or you retards or you N-word.’ She would wave guns at them.”
Sheriff Wood said during a press conference on Monday that Ms Lorincz had told investigators “there was a lot of aggressiveness from both [her and Ownes], back and forth.” There is no evidence that Owens posed a threat when she was shot.
“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,” he said.
Ms Lorincz is expected to appear in court on 9 June to revisit her bond. A hearing in the case is scheduled for mid-July.