March 23rd, 2012
02:20 AM ET

Neighbors describe watch leader at center of Florida investigation

Current and former neighbors call George Zimmerman caring, passionate and polite, a regular guy they enjoyed being around.

But critics of the investigation into the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin at the hands of the Florida neighborhood watch volunteer have portrayed Zimmerman in other terms. They say he recklessly pursued Martin and possibly engaged in racial profiling.

They're demanding that Zimmerman, 28, be arrested in the death of Martin, who was shot last month while walking to the house of his father's fiancee after a trip to a Sanford convenience store.

Zimmerman has said he acted in self-defense.


Filed under: Crime • U.S.
soundoff (93 Responses)
  1. JerseyJeff

    I don't really think it matters how much of a nice guy Zimmerman is.

    Unfortunately, when you are on Neighborhood Watch and then pick up a gun and follow "suspects" and confront them, you just became a vigilante.

    Florida might have the "Stand Your Ground" Law, but I am pretty sure vigilantism is still illegal.

    We would be more critical of a police officer who justly uses his firearm in the line of duty than Florida has been of this vigilante.

    March 23, 2012 at 7:11 am | Report abuse |
  2. Darius

    This guy reminds me of the BTK killer of Kansas also heard he maybe a police informant and that's why he has gotten away with so much.

    March 23, 2012 at 7:29 am | Report abuse |
  3. Luke

    Im glad people are speaking out for this young man too. Apparently, he too was a good person. Of course there will not be people who don't even know him traveling across the country to say what a nice young man he is. But rather, the people who actually know what kind of person he is.

    March 23, 2012 at 8:05 am | Report abuse |
  4. juan

    All the speculation about what words he used. Let's not forget that he is bi-lingual so he could have been using a word that is not even in the English language. A word that means balls or nerve.

    March 23, 2012 at 8:23 am | Report abuse |
  5. Richard

    It is obvious that Zimmerman's prejudices and cowardice led him to believe he could harass this child that was much smaller in stature

    March 23, 2012 at 8:26 am | Report abuse |
    • juan

      Oh! I didn't realize that was Sooo obvious. 6'3" is a pretty tall person, and a football plaster too. I am not sure who was skiing the intimidating here. But you seem to be.

      March 23, 2012 at 8:46 am | Report abuse |
    • JerseyJeff

      If he was 7 feet tall, the most the kid could have threatened him with was his fist or a can of ice tea.... Deadly force hardly seems to be the just reaction.

      March 23, 2012 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Sofa King

      Juan, what do skiing and plastering have to do with anything?

      March 23, 2012 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
  6. al

    Maybe it was the 8 other home break-ins in thethe neighborhood , that were committed by young black males that made him want to question this yout

    March 23, 2012 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Judge Heller

      What's a yout?

      March 23, 2012 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
  7. al

    I guess it would seem logical to some, that if black males had previously been burglarizing homes in the area.... to question white females in the area and avoid any contact with black males.

    March 23, 2012 at 8:57 am | Report abuse |
  8. justathought

    Unfortunately, there are no reliable wittiness to this shooting even though I have a tendency to believe that Zimmerman may have overreacted in some kind of altercation, and it may have been an accident that Zimmerman does not want to own up to because it could be worse for him. To admit to an accident he would be charged with involuntary man slaughter. One thing that I doubt is: that it was a racist act.

    March 23, 2012 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      @just- I think there was a woman almost giving a play by play close to what was happening looking out her window. You can hear the stress in her voice.

      March 23, 2012 at 9:23 am | Report abuse |
    • al

      Yes, and she described by shirt color who was on top of whome at the time.

      March 23, 2012 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
    • JerseyJeff

      Think he over-reacted? I think that is a forgone conclusion. He pursued Trayvon, against the advice of the police, confronted him, and at worst was threatened or faced with fists or a can of soda hitting him and he used deadly force. Zimmerman obviously used unproportional deadly force. Right to "Stand your Ground" or not, that sounds like a vigilante who got it wrong. (Hence why we leave the arresting and police work to the police)

      March 23, 2012 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
  9. Scottish Mama

    The neighborhood watch is just that, people who watch and report. A neighborhood watch sign states Call Police. Mr. Zimmerman did that and they told him to stay in his car. He persued the young man Trayvon. Zimmerman was not under threat, until he persued Trayvon. Facts are facts. The police investigation was sloppy and they missed the chance to gather evidence on Zimmermans clothes. The police can right the wrong by a thorough investigation. It should not matter if he is an informant, no vigilanty actions should go uninvestigated, reveiwed and if cause is found Zimmerman should be prosecuted for the crime he is found to have committed. Too many calls and too little action in this case of a young man being killed.

    March 23, 2012 at 9:19 am | Report abuse |
  10. KiKi

    Why does CNN keep showing the photo of him when he was 12? Why don't they show a recent photo of him?

    March 23, 2012 at 9:28 am | Report abuse |
    • KiKi

      Billy, I read somewhere that the father's girlfriend didn't live in that gated community. That she actually lived the other direction. We need to wait and see what the facts are.

      March 23, 2012 at 9:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Sofa King

      Their recent photo has a bullet hole in him.

      March 23, 2012 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
  11. Billy

    It's a perfectly obvious to me thatZimmerman intended to question the boy about what he was doing. For whatever reason, that's not a federal crime.

    Next: the boy gets verbally indignant and an argument erupts. Then it turn physical and the 6 foot 3 hooded football player tackles Zimmerman to the ground,Zimmerman, is surprised by the quick escalation. The boy gets the upper hand ans Zimmerman, not knowing what to expect next, is forced to shoot him

    March 23, 2012 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Billy

      And all because the boy couldn't just say,"im on my way to this address, my fathers girlfriend lives there and that's where im staying."
      The boy couldn't communicate a simple message to another person without a confrontation. Yes it is sad.

      March 23, 2012 at 9:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      @Billy- Zimmerman was profiling him before he got out of his car. He was told by the dispatcher to stay in his car. He went after and confronted the young man. What the young man was doing is none of his business.
      Now my fairy tale is: Maybe a heavy, bigger, older man running after me (in a place where I am unfamiliar with) is approaching me with a gun and I am screaming for help, but no one comes and he shoots me in the chest to shut me up, and I can say it is self defense to shoot an unarmed young man because the system of florida provides me an excuse.

      March 23, 2012 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      @Billy maybe he could have, but that is speculating Trayvon knew the man with the gun was a neighborhood watchman.

      March 23, 2012 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
    • BOMBO © I'm not a the Pope but

      I can totally see how an arguement escalated. I can totally see how things should have gone differently. But if you remove the GUN from the situation, they are both alive and well. The GUN is central to this problem. And now the NRA can go ahead and fire back at me.

      March 23, 2012 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
  12. KiKi

    Scottish Mama, Zimmerman was on neighborhood watch. It was his job to know what an unfamiliar person was doing wandering around.

    March 23, 2012 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
  13. JerseyJeff

    Do we really want untrained civilians carrying firearms and taking the law into their own hands?
    I am a gun owner and enjoy marksmanship, but I don't want to leave police work to civilians. There is a reason vigilantism is illegal, it leads to abuses and mistakes and that is why we pay taxes and have laws to leave the police work to the professionals. Neighborhood Watch programs are great, but they are only supposed to WATCH and REPORT. Not chase down suspects and confront them with a pistol. If you changed pistol to AK-47, it sounds like a story from Yemen or Afghanistan in local conflict resolution.

    March 23, 2012 at 10:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      @Jersey -agree and nicely stated.

      March 23, 2012 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
    • KiKi

      JerseyJeff, unfortunately we have many problems in our society nowadays. Gangs, thugs, thieves, burglars, muggers, druggies etc. We may have gotten to a point where we need vigilantes. I have witnessed it in my own neighborhood. The police can't keep up. I for one am tired of it. If this it what it takes to bring crime down, I support it.
      How do you know this "child" wasn't there casing the homes?

      March 23, 2012 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  14. Scottish Mama

    @Kiki- If you are watching, he was watching with a loaded gun and was told to stay in a car. It is his job to call police about suspisous behavior or actions, not go running after someone with a gun. If he lhe aproaches me he looks like the criminal to me and I would run from Zimmerman.

    March 23, 2012 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
    • KiKi

      Mama, he wasn't TOLD to stay in the car. The dispatcher advised him there was no need to follow him. Exactly how did the dispatcher know that? And, he did call and report it to the police. I apologize if you were there and witnessed the whole thing go down. Otherwise, why don't you wait until the facts come out before stirring up more racial problems.

      March 23, 2012 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      @Kiki- I read the transcript of the 911 call. Those are fact.

      March 23, 2012 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      I never brought up race, you did.

      March 23, 2012 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
  15. High Hopes


    Everybody wants us to think he's SUCH a
    nice guy, except he assaulted a Police
    Officer, resisted arrest, beats his girlfriend
    AND packs a 9mm pistol everywhere he



    … another Judge's son. O-O


    March 23, 2012 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      It is not what you know, it is who you know.

      March 23, 2012 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
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