A Florida gun shop owner said he received death threats after false reports surfaced that he hired George Zimmerman as a security guard for the shop, WESH-TV reported.
In this July 9, 2013 file photo, George Zimmerman leaves the courtroom for a lunch break his trial in Seminole Circuit Court, in Sanford, Fla. (Image source: AP/Orlando Sentinel, Joe Burbank, Pool, File)
According to the news station, police spotted Zimmerman sitting in a truck with his dog outside Pompano Pat’s in DeLand, Florida, around 12:30 a.m. Sunday. They questioned him, then left the area after determining no crime had been committed. Zimmerman said he was helping protect the store for the owner, Pat Johnson, after it was broken into recently.
"Did Pat hire you to watch over?" an officer is heard saying on dashcam video. "You're just doing it as a friend? Oh, OK."
Johnson told the media that he never hired Zimmerman to provide security; Deland police told TheBlaze Wednesday that Zimmerman never said he was hired or employed by the shop.
"Nothing was said or implied by any representative of the DeLand Police Department that Mr. Zimmerman was hired for security," Sgt. Chris Estes said in a statement. "Every indication illustrates that Mr. Zimmerman was at the store with the knowledge of the owner." The police report notes Zimmerman told cops he would be doing nighttime security for an “indeterminate” time.
But Pompano Pat's employee Sam Porter told TheBlaze that Johnson never knew Zimmerman was outside his shop at night until police spotted him Sunday. Regardless, that activity has come to an end.
A WESH reporter indicated that Johnson called Zimmerman and said "please don't come back; you are not welcome here."
Johnson and Zimmerman have a bit of a history: Last summer Johnson offered Zimmerman a free handgun in the wake of his acquittal in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. The model was a Kel-Tec PF-9, a replacement for the gun that authorities had seized as evidence, according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal.
Johnson said his gesture wasn't racially or politically motivated or a publicity stunt, the News-Journal reported. Johnson indicated he received death threats after his gun offer to Zimmerman, the News-Journal added.
“Unfortunately, Pat got a lot of heat for giving me a gun," Zimmerman is heard saying in the dashcam video released on Tuesday. "It’s all over the papers, this relationship with me and Pat.”
Johnson also is a mayoral candidate in DeLand — and a Pompano Pat's spokesman said this latest Zimmerman incident to hit the news is “nothing more than a negative political campaign stunt” intended to hurt Johnson’s chances in his run against incumbent Bob Apgar in the Aug. 26 election, the News-Journal reported.
“Our company and its founders were appalled and disgusted to learn a politician would use the death of a 17-year-old to further their political career,” Tim Franklin said in a statement. “This stunt establishes an all new low in Florida Politics.”
Porter noted to TheBlaze a concern that "city officials" could have leaked the newest Zimmerman story to the media.
More from the News-Journal:
Reached Tuesday afternoon, Apgar said Franklin’s statement is confusing to him.
“As I understand it, there is a video of the officers’ discussion with Mr. Zimmerman that has been made public,” Apgar said. “Mr. Zimmerman made statements to police that would indicate he was there with my opponent’s knowledge.
“I am just perplexed, that with such a video out there, that someone can think someone can fabricate something relative to this encounter with Mr. Zimmerman by police who were on patrol,” Apgar said.
Here's a report from WKMG-TV in Orlando on the July 9 burglary at Pompano Pat's, which allegedly led to Zimmerman sitting outside the shop: