Zimmerman had a license to carry a concealed weapon, a firearm he has said he carried everywhere except work. He says he was on his way to Target when he spotted someone lurking around in the rain looking in windows. After a series of burglaries at the Retreat at Twin Lakes neighborhood, Zimmerman did what he had done several times before when he spotted black men he did not recognize.
He called the police. And, in a move that is likely to play a big role in the prosecution of his case, Zimmerman also got out of his car. The dispatcher advised against it.
He says it was to provide the police with an address. His detractors say it was to hunt down a black teen in a hoodie.
The girl Trayvon was talking to on the phone in the minutes leading up to his death said Trayvon was scared because a creepy guy was following him. She told him to run.
Minutes later, the teenager was dead, and Zimmerman’s life was about to be upended.
“After enduring a prolonged physical attack from Trayvon Martin, screaming for help countless times and receiving no help, and all the while in fear for my life, I shot Trayvon Martin in self-defense,” Zimmerman wrote in a recent statement posted on his website. “I did not shoot to take his life, I shot to save my own.”
Indeed, a photo taken at the scene showed Zimmerman with a swollen bloody nose. Did Trayvon deck Zimmerman for no reason? Or did the skinny high school student defend himself against a shorter but stockier gunman who chased him?
“In the days and weeks following the shooting, a story was promoted that I am a racist and a murderer,” Zimmerman wrote. “These untruths spread through the community, the government, and the nation, amplified by a media frenzy seeking ratings over truth.”
So adamant is he about the media’s manipulation of the story that this month Zimmerman sued NBC for editing his call to police in a way that made it appear as if his suspicion of the teenager was based largely on race.
Zimmerman has this on his side: Sanford police apparently believed him. Although records show a detective recommended a manslaughter charge, lawyers have listed detectives to testify — for the defense.
“That’s not me hot-dogging it,” defense lawyer Mark O’Mara said. “That’s because the cops say things I want them to say.”
While some residents who were there that night blasted the police for a shoddy investigation, others said they saw Trayvon straddling Zimmerman as the two struggled on the ground. One man said the teenager was hitting Zimmerman “MMA-style.”
“Mixed martial arts. I had never seen that sport, but I saw it on YouTube and was amazed at the savage manner they beat people,” Zimmerman’s mother, Gladys, told Univision news anchor Jorge Ramos in a recent interview.
She said none of it would have happened had Trayvon not attacked her son so savagely.
“George is not a racist. My family is not racist,” she insisted, while speaking with her face obscured. “My children know their roots, and my roots are not white.”
The family fled its Lake Mary home in the face of what they said were repeated death threats. One of them arrived on a neighbor’s answering machine.
“They said, ‘This message is for your neighbor Gladys Zimmerman. You can tell her I’ll be waiting for her by her post office box where I will slit her throat,’” recalled Jeff Peterson, a neighbor on their Lake Mary street. “This thing changed everybody’s life in this neighborhood, and George didn’t even live here.”