A black mother and son hugs after another senseless mass shooting in Texas.

Robert Jackson and his mother Cheryl hug as they visit a memorial for the victims in the Allen, Texas mall shootings.

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Simply A(nother) Killing In A Nasty World

After days of enraged Americans wondering how a (white) woman could shoot and kill through a locked door a (black) mother whose four children she'd harassed, bullied, called 'niggers' and thrown things at and yet still remain free, the murderous Karen was finally arrested in stand-your-ground Florida, where police had to think about it before deciding it was "simply a killing." Thus is victim Ajike 'AJ' Owens, "a heart of gold" who "absolutely lived for her four children," now "just another Black soul lost to earth."

The killing of Owens - a single, 35-year-old hospitality manager and Team Mom with her kids' football and cheer-leading teams - for standing up for her children while black was on June 2, National Gun Violence Awareness Day: "Stop Shooting Our Kids Beyond Recognition." It also came within weeks of the anniversaries of both the catastrophic mass shooting of schoolchildren in Uvalde and the harrowing murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. Both deadly events linger for loved ones left behind: ”When the rest of the world is asleep, we’re awake," says George's brother Philonise of what A.G. and special prosecutor Keith Ellison, haunted by the moment "his eyes closed (and) the life went out of George Floyd," calls the still-urgent precept that, "There can be no one in this country, not one single soul, who feels like, 'I operate above the law, I walk between the raindrops.'"

In an America beset by often-brutal cops, enduring racism, vicious culture wars, a gravely inequitable criminal justice system, and over 460 million guns - 120 per 100 people, helping make gun violence the leading cause of death for kids - that's a tough mission. Last week, in our 279th mass shooting (in the year's first 157 days), a 19-year-old with four handguns killed a father and son, wounding at least five more, when he fired into a crowd after a high school graduation in Richmond, VA; Shawn Jackson, 18, had worked hard to graduate, said the principal, who "can't shake the image of him receiving CPR on the ground still in (his) gown." In Atlanta, a 16-year-old girl was shot and killed outside an Atlanta high school graduation party; in D.C. the week before, two kids were shot and killed, including a 10-year-old hit by random gunfire driving home with her family on Mother's Day; so was a man gunned down at the cemetery during her burial. The police chief called the surreal events "unacceptable."

They came amidst a nationwide spate of wildly senseless shootings of people going about life in the wrong place at the wrong time in the wrong country: Eight killed and seven wounded when a gunman opened fire at an outlet mall in Allen, Texas; a 20-year-old killed in upstate New York for pulling into the wrong driveway; two Texas cheerleaders wounded after one got into the wrong car; two Instacart drivers shot at for going to the wrong address in Florida; a 14-year-old girl shot in the back of her head by a Louisiana homeowner for playing hide-and-seek in his backyard; 16-year-old Ralph Yar shot in the head through a front door in Kansas City, Missouri after he mistakenly went to pick up his siblings at the house of Andrew Lester, 84, who was "scared to death of a black boy at his door." In a nation where race has long played a key role in determining who is perceived as dangerous, many of these victims were black. As a result, says one NAACP official, "Black folks are almost (afraid) to go outside."

Ajike Owens, the single mom of three boys and a girl ages 4 to 12, lived in a multi-racial, "family friendly" housing complex in Ocala FLA, where she was known as a loving mother who "would do anything for her kids" and worked two jobs to support them. Last Friday evening, her kids and others from the complex were playing in a field when a white woman across the road began yelling at them. Neighbors say Susan Louise Lorincz, 58, often harassed black kids in the neighborhood, calling them slaves, bastards, jackasses, and "the N-word." "She was angry all the time the children were playing out there,” said one neighbor. "She would say nasty things to them - just nasty." That evening, when the kids scattered before her abuse, Owen's 9-year-old son accidentally left behind his iPad, which Lorincz seized. When he and his 12-year-old brother went to ask for it back, Lorincz threw it at them, cracking the screen, then threw a pair of roller skates at them and prodded them with an umbrella.

The boys went home and told their mother. Trailed by the 9-year-old, she walked to Lorincz' house, knocked repeatedly on the door, and asked Lorincz to come out and talk. In response, Lorincz fired one shot through the locked door, striking Owens in her chest as her son stood next to her. She staggered away, told him to call 911, and collapsed on the grass. Lauren Smith, 40, a white neighbor sitting on her porch across the street, said she saw Owens’ son pacing and yelling, “They shot my mama, they shot my mama." She ran over with several people and began performing chest compressions until medical help arrived. Owens died soon after at the hospital. Still, despite multiple eye-witnesses naming the shooter, and the fact that, even in DeathSantis' Florida, it remains illegal to murder someone because you dislike them, their kids or their skin color - still, for four days, Sheriff Billy Woods brought no charges and made no arrest, prompting a generally stunned response of, "WHAT.THE.ABSOLUTE.FUCK."

Arguing that, "Rushing in to make an arrest is not the right thing to do sometimes," Woods said law enforcement had to investigate whether the shooting fit the criteria of the state's appalling "stand your ground" laws, whereby a (usually white) homeowner can use deadly force if they feel their lives are in danger from a (usually black) interloper. He also said they didn't want to interview kids "the night they possibly witnessed their mother being killed" until counselors spoke with them, noting, "We’re not cold-hearted bastards." He also made some dubious, both-sides claims about a longstanding “neighborhood feud" with "a lot of aggressiveness from both of them, back and forth" and called a few dozen, mostly black protesters "a mob seeking, well, what they think is justice." But he did thank "all of you that have sent me messages... encouraging the arrest because it shows you care about a fellow human being," and called his resolve to seek justice "unwavering."

Four days after the shooting, and the night after mourners gathered to hold a(nother) candlelight vigil and declare, “Our children and adults deserve to live in a world where they do not live in fear of their neighbors," Lorincz, 58, was arrested and charged with manslaughter with a firearm, culpable negligence, battery and two counts of assault. After investigators recovered two handguns, a Ruger 22 and a Remington 380, from her house, she told them Owens had “previously attacked her” and was “trying to break down her door." Her credibility seemed shaky. Noted attorney Ben Crump, representing Owens' family, “If the roles were reversed, and you have a Black woman shoot a White woman through a locked door, nobody would be saying, ‘It’s a difficult case.' It is a simple case. The only question is, are we going give AJ the same respect, the same dignity?" But despite the delay, he praised Lorincz' arrest: "We don't take that lightly...because Black people and swift justice in America is not something that happens all the time."

Other responses were bitter: "It's Floriduh - don't expect a conviction...What does it say when a person can shoot and kill an unarmed mother in the presence of her young children and not be immediately charged? It says she was white and shot a minority...Bury this bigot deep for the rest of her rotten life." But on a GoFundMe organized by Owen's grieving mother Pamela Dias, confronted by the sorrowful fact of four motherless children, the tone of those donating was mournful: "My God, this is beyond heartbreaking..THESE BABIES NEED JUSTICE FOR THE LOSS OF THEIR MOMMY...I care. I care about her, I care about the kids who will not have a mother, my heart breaks for this world...AJ and her children deserve a country where love surrounds them...This is a terrible tragedy. I am so sorry these children lost their Mother because of the stupidity of a horrible woman...I'm crying for all those that are directly touched by this, but also for what we have become as a nation."

Faced with a murder "senseless, hateful and stupid," Dias' fundraising - to help AJ's children and advocate to end Stand Your Ground - is also an entreaty: "Please do not let my daughter's dying go in vain." "I pray for the strength, wisdom and ability to raise these children," Dias says. "She loved them with all her being. To know her is to know that her kids were her everything." "This is not fair," she says plaintively, on "a closed, locked door...My daughter shot and killed with her son standing next to her...She posed no threat." Today, she says, the 9-year-old who left the iPad blames himself for their terrible loss; so does the 12-year-old, unable to perform CPR, who says, “Grandma, grandma, I couldn’t save her." Jamerien Wilson, an 18-year-old who often played basketball with the 12-year-old, was distraught when he saw the shooting's aftermath - police cars everywhere, an EMT trying to save Owens on the ground. "You took this woman away from her kids," he said. "It’s just not what we need. Bro, this world is really, really nasty."

Update: Lorincz was just granted bail of $154,000, even though she "did not have any respect for human life." Guess it's pretty cheap in Florida (if black).

Ajike 'A.J.' Shantrelle Owens Ajike 'A.J.' Shantrelle Owens Family photo

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