MIKE SCHNEIDER, Associated Press
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — George Zimmerman had moved away from Florida, but is now sticking around as police investigate his role in a confrontation with a man who shot at him as they were driving.
It’s Zimmerman’s latest brush with the law since he was acquitted two years ago for fatally shooting Trayvon Martin.
Police officers Tuesday said they had recovered a handgun from Zimmerman and took two guns from Matthew Apperson, the man accused of shooting at Zimmerman while both were driving Monday on a busy street in the Orlando suburb of Lake Mary.
Documents show detectives are investigating the shooting as a possible aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill. There is no timetable on when they will decide on whether any charges are warranted.
Both men had their guns legally. The passenger window of Zimmerman’s pickup had a bullet hole in it and Zimmerman suffered minor injuries from flying glass and debris.
“He never waved it, displayed it or brandished it,” Zimmerman’s attorney, Don West, said. “He did not threaten Mr. Apperson in any way with a firearm.”
Apperson’s attorney, Mark NeJame, said the shooting was “a good, old-fashioned self-defense case.” He said their encounter on Monday was pure “happenstance.”
“He is not looking for trouble. He did not want trouble,” NeJame said of Apperson. “He’s not following George Zimmerman around. He’s not wanting anything to do with George Zimmerman, as it relates to any of this.”
Police officers on Tuesday also released a 911 call in which the caller says Apperson told him he was forced to fire at the former neighborhood watch volunteer.
“A guy says he had to shoot a guy through the window and he wants the police to come,” the man said on the call. “He had to shoot at somebody … He said it was George Zimmerman.”
Police appealed to the public for help, believing “there is someone that saw something” on the busy road, Lake Mary police officer Bianca Gillett said.
Zimmerman and Apperson were involved in a road-rage episode last September. Apperson said Zimmerman had threatened to kill him after Apperson made a U-turn that put him in an adjacent lane, asking “Do you know who I am?”
Apperson decided not to pursue charges.
Two days later, Apperson called police to report that Zimmerman’s truck was parked near the disability-benefits office where he works. Zimmerman told police officers he had an appointment in the same office park, and no charges were filed.
West refused to say where Zimmerman was now living. Zimmerman doesn’t have a regular-paying job, and will stay in central Florida to cooperate with the investigation “until he is no longer needed,” West said.
“He was getting settled,” West said. “His plan was to be around for a couple of days and go back.”
Zimmerman was acquitted in the February 2012 shooting death of Martin, an unarmed black teenager, in a case that sparked protests and a national debate about race relations. The Justice Department later decided not to bring a civil rights case against Zimmerman.
Since then, Zimmerman was charged with assault based on complaints from two girlfriends. In both cases, the girlfriends refused to cooperate and charges were dropped. His estranged wife also accused him of smashing her iPad during an argument days after she filed divorce papers. No charges were filed because of lack of evidence.
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