SANFORD, Fla. (CBSMiami) – George Zimmerman has gone from anonymity to the center of a nationwide scandal with one pull of the trigger of his gun. His shooting of Trayvon Martin, 17, has left many questions unanswered about exactly who exactly is George Zimmerman?
He grew up as an altar boy in Manassas, Virginia. Kay Hall was a friend of the family while Zimmerman was growing up.
“Their children were all very obedient,” said Hall. “They didn’t run loose in the neighborhood. They were a very nice family.”
Zimmerman came to Florida to work with his godfather, but when he got here, he had run-ins with the law. In 2005, he was arrested for battery on a law enforcement officer and obstructing justice. While he was fighting that case, his ex-fiancé accused him of domestic violence.
“He open smacked my mouth and asked how does it feel,” the fiancé told police once. Another time, the fiancé said, “He was sexually groping me and said he could because I was his woman.”
Joe Oliver is one of Zimmerman’s long-time friends. He said Trayvon Martin’s skin color played no role in his death.
“We’re all frustrated,” Oliver said. “It was not racially motivated.”
Zimmerman was a self-appointed neighborhood watchman for several years, making 46 calls to police since last January. Zimmerman had been studying at Seminole State College, reportedly to work in law enforcement. Seminole College expelled Zimmerman after Trayvon’s shooting death.
Just a few years ago, Zimmerman returned to Virginia and asked George Hall for a recommendation letter to apply for a job at a police department. But since last month’s shooting, Zimmerman has not been seen in public.
Zimmerman was also an employee at a mortgage risk-management company in Maitland, Florida. The company said Zimmerman has not been to work since the death of Trayvon Martin.
Meanwhile, Oliver hopes people won’t rush to judgment.
“There’s a gap from the time that George gout out of the vehicle and that the gun went off that we don’t know what happened,” Oliver said.