Gun Shop Owner Claims He’s Received Death Threats Over False Reports He Hired Zimmerman As Security
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DELAND, Fla. (CBS Tampa/AP) — A Florida gun shop owner claims he and his employees have received death threats over reports that he hired George Zimmerman to provide security.
Pat Johnson, owner of the motorcycle and gun store Pompano Pat’s, told WESH-TV that the threats came in after Zimmerman was questioned by DeLand police when officers spotted him and his dog parked behind the store early Sunday morning.
Zimmerman, acquitted last summer in the shooting of the 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, told officers that the owner gave him permission to be there to provide security after a recent burglary, according to the police report. Officers attempted to confirm that but couldn’t reach the owner.
No citations were issued because “There was no evidence to support that a crime had occurred or was about to occur,” Officer Jessica Mayo wrote in the report.
Zimmerman “in no way, shape or form” is employed by the store, Pompano Pat’s manager Sam Porter told The Associated Press in a phone interview Tuesday. Owner Pat Johnson didn’t immediately return a phone message.
“He’s not being paid to be act as a security officer or in any other way for Pompano Pat’s,” Porter said.
Porter confirmed that the store had a burglary about two weeks ago, with 10 rifles stolen. He said that internal store security was “beefed up” after the incident, but that no after-hours security personnel were hired.
Porter said that Johnson knew Zimmerman and had a friendship with him but wouldn’t elaborate further.
WESH-TV reports that Johnson befriended Zimmerman last year and offered him a gun for his protection following this highly publicized trial. Johnson has since called Zimmerman and told him he was no longer welcome at the store following Sunday’s incident.
Zimmerman became a national figure during his second-degree murder trial last year for fatally shooting Trayvon Martin during an altercation in Sanford, Fla., in February 2012. The case raised questions about race and self-defense laws. Zimmerman, who identifies himself as Hispanic, was acquitted last July in the shooting of Martin, who was black.
Zimmerman filed an appeal this week in a defamation lawsuit against NBC Universal and three reporters.
Last month, a judge dismissed Zimmerman’s lawsuit, saying the former neighborhood watch leader had failed to show that the network acted with malice.
In his lawsuit, Zimmerman says NBC’s editing of a story about the shooting made it sound as if he voluntarily told a phone operator that Martin was black.
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