George Zimmerman, who has gained international notoriety for claiming he shot and killed unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in self defense, bought the gun in 2009 because of a Pit Bull wandering in his Sanford, Fla., neighborhood.
Reuters reported yesterday that Zimmerman was afraid of being attacked by the dog, named Big Boi. The Pit Bull was allowed to run loose by his unidentified, irresponsible owner.
On three separate occasions, Zimmerman called the owner and Seminole County Animal Services to complain about the dog. He claimed Big Boi was menacing to him, his wife and his mother-in-law’s dog. The third time he called, an officer was dispatched to Zimmerman’s house.
Zimmerman had bought pepper spray to use on the dog, but the officer advised him not to. An unidentified friend told Reuters the officer said, “It’ll take two or three seconds to take effect, but a quarter second for the dog to jump you. Get a gun.”
(While the Reuters story doesn’t say if the officer was a policeman, family dogs don’t have a good track record against armed police officers. Most recently, an Australian Cattle Dog named Cisco was shot and killed in Texas earlier this month when a 911 caller gave police the wrong address for a domestic violence incident.)
After Zimmerman and his wife completed firearms training and obtained concealed weapons permits, they bought handguns in December 2009. The fate of Big Boi is not disclosed – hopefully his owner did the right thing and stopped the dog’s roaming.
Zimmerman’s focus shifted toward a string of burglaries in his gated community. He volunteered to head the Neighborhood Watch, and although it violated the rules, he carried the gun with him on his patrols of the neighborhood.
He had the gun on the night of Feb. 26, when he spotted Martin. Zimmerman told police he thought the 17-year-old appeared to be suspicious. Martin was walking back to his father’s fiance’s house after buying candy at a convenience store, but never made it there.
Zimmerman was finally arrested and charged with second-degree murder more than six weeks later. He is currently free on $150,000 bail.
PHOTO: Orange County Jail, Florida