Thursday, April 26, 2018

Night, fear blur witness accounts

MIAMI — At first, the howling in the dark sounded like a dogfight. Then came cries.

"Help! Help! Help!"

No one knows who cried out.

In a steady drizzle that February night, George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin were fighting for their lives — a fact that wasn't immediately clear to the witnesses in a case that has riveted the country. Details of that night emerged Thursday as the recorded and written accounts of the shooting at the Retreat at Twin Lakes gated community were released, although most witness names were blacked out.

The information gathered by police and other investigators, released publicly for the first time, offers a glimpse into the demeanor of Zimmerman immediately after he shot Martin. But no one really saw what happened, their views limited by the night and fear.

But there were no eyewitnesses to give a start-to-finish account of what happened.

One man peeked through his door. At first, he said, he thought the dispute was far away. But the yelling and fighting got louder and closer to his home. When he looked outside, he saw them fighting as if they were in mixed martial-arts combat.

Martin appeared to be on top.

"Hey, cut it out!" the witness said he yelled.

The two kept fighting. So he ducked inside to call 911.

And then, a shot. Zimmerman's 9mm handgun fired.

"It sounded like a rock hit a window," the witness said. "I've never heard a gunshot before."

He looked outside.

"The person that was actually on top at that point was laying in my grass, kind of in a sprawled position — not moving," he said. "And then I saw another person with his hands in the air."

That was Zimmerman.

Flashlights from neighbors began to illuminate bits of the night. Police were en route. Zimmerman stood over Trayvon.

"The gun's on the ground," Zimmerman said, according to the witness. "I shot this guy in self-defense."

They appear to be his first words after the shooting.

Another neighbor whose wife had been peering out intermittently shined his flashlight on Zimmerman.

"Man, I got blood on my face?" Zimmerman asked, the witness told police.

"Yeah, you got blood all over, man," the witness said he responded. "I looked over and he's got blood on the back of his head. You all right man?"

Zimmerman: "Ah, man this guy he was beating up on me so I had to shoot him." The witness asked what kind of gun Zimmerman shot.

"Did you use a 9 (mm) or a .40?" he asked.

Zimmerman: "I used a 9." Witness: "Did you call 911 yet?"

Zimmerman squatted down and, the witness said, he could see "blood on the back of his head, grass stains. And by that time I flashed my light down. And there was this kid face down in the grass."

"Can you please call my wife," Zimmerman reportedly asked him, the witness said in a follow-up interview a month later. "Let her know what happened."

The witness complied, called Mrs. Zimmerman and told her that her husband was handcuffed and being held in a shooting.

"Just tell her I shot somebody," the witness said Zimmerman told him.

One witness in the case, a girlfriend of Martin's, was on the phone with him, calling from South Florida.

"He said he is walking and this man is still following him behind in the car," she said. "He put his hoodie on.

"He just ran," she said. "I could hear the wind blowing."

She heard the confrontation.

"Why are you following me?" she said Martin asked.

She said she heard the voice of a man in response, asking: "What are you doing around here?"

Soon, the phone went dead.

Comments
Is former Florida Gators lineman Taven Bryan a first-round NFL draft pick?

Is former Florida Gators lineman Taven Bryan a first-round NFL draft pick?

Aside from former Florida State safety Derwin James, the most likely first-round pick from a state college is ex-Florida defensive lineman Taven Bryan.He hopes, at least."That would (stink) if I didn't," Bryan said last month at Florida's pro da...
Updated: 7 minutes ago
Consumer group labels Alcee Hastings a ‘payday puppet’

Consumer group labels Alcee Hastings a ‘payday puppet’

WASHINGTON – Florida Rep. Alcee Hastings received thousands of dollars from payday lenders after taking steps to protect the industry from regulation, according to a report issued Thursday by a consumer group.In September 2016, the south Florid...
Updated: 7 minutes ago
The Daystarter: Lightning’s next opponent and playoffs’ economic impact; Rick Scott earns political victory; what goes on in that pink house?; it’s draft day for Bucs

The Daystarter: Lightning’s next opponent and playoffs’ economic impact; Rick Scott earns political victory; what goes on in that pink house?; it’s draft day for Bucs

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.• Another sunny day today with high temperatures in the low 80s, according to 10Weather WTSP. Friday brings the possibility of rain, and the weekend brings the heat: Sunday’s high is in...
Updated: 9 minutes ago
The Lightning is fun, but does its playoff run translate into dollars for Tampa?

The Lightning is fun, but does its playoff run translate into dollars for Tampa?

TAMPA — As the Tampa Bay Lightning wait for its next playoff opponent to come to town, the city’s business community — large and small — say they’ve already won this NHL postseason.At WestShore Plaza this week, with blue and white banners surrounding...
Updated: 22 minutes ago
SOCom leader wanted to toss Google exec from car. Because he was right.

SOCom leader wanted to toss Google exec from car. Because he was right.

TAMPA — Standing in front of an audience of several thousand scientists, data wonks, geospatial intelligence analysts and other big thinkers, Army Gen. Tony Thomas drew some laughs when he talked about the time he felt the urge to toss Google CEO Eri...
Updated: 1 hour ago
The last cigar factory in Tampa keeps rolling

The last cigar factory in Tampa keeps rolling

YBOR CITY -- History lives here, inside the J.C. Newman Cigar Co.Machines manufactured in the 1930s are still used to pack and roll the cigars, and the sights and smells are throwbacks. Tobacco bits litter the weathered wooden floor, and a pungent od...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Review: Foo Fighters drop an all-night rock revival on Tampa’s MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre

Review: Foo Fighters drop an all-night rock revival on Tampa’s MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre

Dave Grohl charged out like a pre-tween hopped up on Code Red, sprinting from corner to corner of the stage, all kinds of jacked up to preach the high holy gospel of RAWK."You know why I'm here? Do you know why I came here tonight?" the Foo Fighters ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Romano: Is it still environmentally conscious if it’s based on a sham?

Romano: Is it still environmentally conscious if it’s based on a sham?

Let’s discuss biosolids waste. I promise, it won’t be gross or boring.No, this is more of a how-did-we-lose-money-again bedtime story.Our tale begins around 2006 when St. Pete officials began exploring a biosolids project. The city was eventually goi...
Updated: 1 hour ago
The Iron Nun still going strong at age 88

The Iron Nun still going strong at age 88

TAMPA —These smart phones and computers and internet are big annoyances to Sister Madonna Buder.Every time she turns around, there's a message or a request or a question coming into one of her devices from somewhere in the world."What's all the...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Germany expects new US tariffs to hit Europe from May 1

Germany expects new US tariffs to hit Europe from May 1

The German government expects new U.S. import tariffs on steel and aluminum to hit the European Union from next week
Updated: 1 hour ago