The man at the center of a shooting controversy in Sanford, Florida has ties to our area. Jane Watrel reports.
The man who told police he shot and killed a Florida teenager in self-defense originally was from northern Virginia.
George Zimmerman, 28, moved to Florida about 10 years ago, after he graduated from Osbourn High School in Manassas, Va. He has not been charged in the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., last month. A grand jury will investigate the case. The Justice Department will determine whether or not a hate crime occurred.
The Zimmermans were community fixtures in Prince William County. George Zimmerman’s mother worked for Prince William County government for 28 years before retiring, according to a former neighbor. She also performed bilingual weddings at the Prince William County Courthouse before the family moved to Florida.
“They were just an impressive family. They really were,” said George Hall, who lived across the street from the Zimmermans for more than two decades.
A few years ago, Zimmerman returned to the area and dropped by Hall’s home.
“He came over and he asked me, ‘Mr. Hall, do you mind if I ask you to give me a recommendation for the police department so they’ll know what I am and who I am and how you think about me?’” Hall said. “I wrote a very positive because he was a very positive guy in my eyes, and I’m shocked.”
It’s unknown if Zimmerman was applying for Virginia State Police or Prince William County police, but he remained in Florida, where eventually he became a neighborhood watch captain. In that role he confronted and fatally shot Trayvon, who was walking to the home he was visiting from a convenience store with a soda and Skittles.
“When I heard ‘George Zimmerman,’ it passed, you know, crossing my mind, and I thought, Well that’s Sanford, and besides, it couldn’t be George because he wouldn’t do anything like that,” Kay Hall said.
Her husband didn’t make the connection at all.
“I didn’t think about our friends down in Florida,” George Hall said. “I thought that this is some other guy that doesn’t know how to control himself and carrying a weapon, which maybe he shouldn’t have been doing if that’s the kind of mentality he’s got.”