JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – There has been a recent rash of violence across Florida that has included clashes between neighbors and drivers. In some cases, lives were lost.
News4JAX spoke with community members and attorneys about what to do when there are disputes with neighbors.
In a Palm Coast neighborhood, a man put a gun to a woman’s head and threatened to kill her all because a car backed in and pulled out of his driveway.
Then there was a situation in Marion County that actually turned deadly. Some said these neighbor disputes are atrocious. Defense attorneys say it’s because nowadays people value their property over human lives.
But people keep pulling guns, like during a road rage incident in Palm Coast on Monday.
Flagler County sheriff’s deputies say Bryant Stanley, 50, pointed this gun at a driver through his passenger window. The victim told police Stanley tried to run them off the road. He’s charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill.
News4JAX showed the video showing the driveway incident to Palm Coast resident JW Gilmore. He saw all the police cars when the confrontation happened but didn’t know what led to it.
He said he’s spoken to the man accused, 60-year-old Terry Vesch, before and said he never thought he’d see this from his neighbors.
“It’s a little extreme. But, you know, it’s getting to be extreme nowadays anyway,” Gilmore said.
Vesch was arrested and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
”I think it’s a function of the culture in which we live in in Florida, where gun possession is kind of encouraged by the government,” defense attorney Richard Brown said. “And you only threaten human life, when life is at stake, or great bodily harm is at stake.”
Brown said self-defense probably won’t work in the first two cases, but it will be a major part of a case out of Marion County.
“I wish our shooter would have called us instead of taking actions into her own hands,” said Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods.
Susan Lorincz, 58, was charged with manslaughter in the death of Ajike Owens. Reports said Lorincz yelled at, swung an umbrella, and threw a pair of skates at Owens’s children who were playing outside.
A witness told police Owens was banging on Lorincz’s front door, telling her to come outside then Lorincz shot Owens through the door and told investigators that Owens was trying to break in.
“It’s all going to come down to can you shoot somebody through a door? If you reasonably believe that you are under a threat of death or great bodily harm,” Brown said.
So, what can neighbors do if they have a problem with their neighbors?
“There are trespass warnings against people going on your property, you can get restraining orders. If it rises to that level, you can call police and make reports about things that are happening. But using a weapon or using deadly force against one of your neighbors should be your last resort, not your first resort,” Brown said.
He said these three cases could become more common with the state’s new gun laws, including the recently passed permitless carry.
Because of this, neighbors like Gilmore said they’ll keep to themselves.
“Normally everybody comes here to have a good time and relax, see a mouse, see a rocket, see a racecar. Things have gotten really out of hand in the state of Florida,” Gilmore said.
Defense attorneys say people carrying weapons should have the mindset to de-escalate conflict and that’s not what was seen in these three cases.
So the next time you have a problem with a neighbor or someone on the road, ask yourself, is this worth their life or even yours?