ORLANDO (CBSMiami/AP) — The family of a Miami teenager who was fatally shot after an encounter with a neighborhood watch leader in Sanford, is seeking answers about the death of their son.
After getting few answers from police, Trayvon Martin’s grieving family has hired an attorney and is publicizing his death on national media outlets.
Earlier this week, they asked the Sanford police department investigating the death to release 911 tapes that may help explain how the young man died.
Trayvon “Trey” Martin, 17, lived in Miami. He loved horses, and dreamed of becoming a pilot.
The high school junior was visiting relatives last month when he was shot and killed inside a gated subdivision of town homes while visiting his father and soon-to-be-stepmother at their home in a gated community in the Orlando suburb of Sanford.
He had gone to a convenience store to buy some Skittles candy and was returning home when he was confronted by an armed man who was head of the local neighborhood watch, family members said.
Around 7:00 p.m. on February 26, Martin was walking back from a 7-Eleven a half-mile away where he had bought an iced tea and a bag of Skittles.
At 7:17 p.m., 26 year-old George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch member, called police to report a suspicious person inside the gated community. A dispatcher told Zimmerman police were on the way and to let them handle it.
Just two minutes later, six neighbors dialed 911 to report a fight – and then a gunshot.
Trey Martin, shot once in the chest, lay dead on a walkway just 70 yards from the home where he was staying. He was unarmed.
“He was up here to relax. He wasn’t up here to return home in a body bag. That’s the part that tears me up,” said his father. “And for me not to be able to save his life is hard.”
Sanford Police have questioned Zimmerman, but not charged him. He had a legal permit to carry his concealed weapon, a 9-mm handgun.
For now, he’s a free man who maintains he acted in self-defense.
Zimmerman has admitted to shooting Martin, according to police.
Sanford Police chief Bill Lee confirms that Zimmerman was armed and Martin was not.
Lee says no one saw how or why the fight began, and that police are trying to establish whether Zimmerman did act in self-defense.
Tracy Martin says if anyone was trying to defend himself, it was his son.
“Why would he attack this guy?” asks the father. “He don’t know this guy. What was he going to do — attack him with a pack of skittles?”
Lee says he understands Martin’s frustration.
“It’s their 17-year-old son. I have a 16-year-old son and I couldn’t imagine experiencing what they’re experiencing,” Lee said.
George Zimmerman is a college student majoring in criminal justice. Neighbors and police say he has lived somewhere else since the shooting. Tracy Martin wants Zimmerman to face a jury for killing Trey.
“My kid went to the morgue and this guy went home to sleep in his bed,” Martin said. “There’s no justice in that.”
The 911 tapes haven’t been released because it has critical information and detectives don’t want it to influence the testimony of prospective witnesses, the police chief said.
Martin, who lived with his mother in Miami, was a junior at Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High School. He was in the middle of serving a one-week suspension from the school. Tracy Martin would not discuss his son’s suspension, but said he took Trayvon to the Central Florida town, best known as the auto train stop closest to Orlando, “to disconnect and get his priorities straight.”
Lee said the neighborhood watch, which works directly with police, started two months ago after the community was hit with several property crimes. Zimmerman was the leader.
“We encourage residents to report any suspicious activity, to not to put it in their own hands,’’ said Lee. “What happened is a tragedy.”
Trayvon Martin’s funeral was held March 3 in Miami. More than 1,000 people, including classmates and friends, showed up at his viewing.
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