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Marion County sheriff explains why it took 4 days to arrest woman accused of shooting, killing Ocala mother

"I can't blame individuals, our community wanting something immediately done in such a tragic and senseless killing," the sheriff said.

OCALA, Fla. — Susan Lorincz is now in jail after investigators said she told them she shot and killed a mother in Ocala with claims of self-defense.

Lorincz, a white woman, is charged with manslaughter and other offenses for the death of Ajike "AJ" Owens on Friday. Protests and demands went on urging for an arrest. 

Late Tuesday, the Marion County Sheriff's Office announced Lorincz's arrest, four days after the shooting, where Owens' children were present, according to investigators.

"Would I love to have made an arrest that night? Absolutely," Sheriff Billy Woods said.

However, because of self-defense claims Lorincz made, Woods said law enforcement must comply with state laws.

The law getting the most traction is Florida's "stand-your-ground" rule.

Legal experts said under the rule, one may use deadly force if there is imminent bodily harm or even death -- as Lorincz had made. 

"It's our burden to show that it was unjustified or justified before we can make an arrest," Woods said. 

Since the law was passed in Florida, one no longer has a duty to retreat, explains Rohom Khonsari, a St. Petersburg-based defense attorney who was also a prosecutor. 

"If you're in fear of imminent bodily harm, serious bodily harm or death, then you have no duty to retreat, and you can use deadly force to defend yourself," Khonsari said.

Woods added another factor involved the presence of Owens' children when the shooting took place. In this case, Woods said the children's testimony was key in possibly disproving the claims Lorincz had made. 

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump is representing the family of Owens and criticized Florida's "stand-your-ground" law. He said it's archaic and disproportionately affects people of color.

While Crump and the family of Owens expressed gratitude for the arrest of Lorincz, they believe a swifter arrest would be made if Owens wasn't Black.

"If the roles were reversed, and you had a black woman shoot a white woman through a metal door, nobody would say it's a difficult case. It is a simple case. The only question is, are we gonna give AJ the same respect, the same dignity and the same constitutional rights as every other American?" Crump said during a press conference. 

Angela Ferrell-Zabala, executive director of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, said stand your ground cases, which she refers to as “shoot first laws,” are deemed justifiable five times more frequently when a white shooter kills a Black victim.

Florida Gulf Coast University Professor Dr. David Thomas said investigators waited until they received all the facts and made a proper charge. Otherwise, under Florida's state statute, a defendant can demand a speedy trial from the moment state law enforcement makes an arrest, which is 175 days. 

"Forty-four hours is pretty good in the grand scheme of things, but they had to tie it up, and they had to put it together," Thomas said of the time it took to arrest Lorincz. 

Previous calls were made around the property. Based on the investigation, Woods said neighbors had expressed concern over Lorincz's behavior. 

Investigators said at one point while children were out playing, Lorincz had thrown rollerskates at one of Owens' children. The shooter had also been yelling racial slurs at the children, according to a statement from Crump.

"This wasn't a feud," Woods said. "Our shooter harassed these children on a regular basis."

Regardless of the outcome, Owens' mother Pamela Dias said four children are now without her.

“I pray that God gives me the strength, the wisdom and the ability to raise these children as our daughter would have us to do,” Dias said, of receiving childcare help from family and friends. “I thank God that I don’t have to do it alone.” 

Crump and the family are also demanding the state attorney's office of William Gladson upgrade Lorincz's manslaughter charge to murder. 

In a statement, the office wrote back: 

"Our office worked closely with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office during the course of the investigation into this terrible crime.  Now that an arrest has been made, our office will diligently pursue the prosecution of the defendant, Susan Lorincz.  Our sole focus will be to bring justice to  Ajike Owens, her family and her loved ones.  Given that the criminal case is now pending, our agency is limited in what we can publicly comment on at this time.  However; as I said, we will aggressively pursue the prosecution of the defendant responsible for this senseless crime."

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 


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