George Zimmerman, the former Neighborhood Watch volunteer who shot and killed Trayvon Martin, suffered minor injuries in a roadside shooting Monday near a busy intersection in Lake Mary.
Lake Mary Police Department Chief Steve Bracknell said the shooter is thought to be Matthew Apperson of Winter Springs — a man who accused Zimmerman of making threats during a road-rage incident on the same road last year.
As of late Monday no one had yet been arrested in the shooting.
Zimmerman, 31, was released from a hospital in Sanford after a brief stay to treat his facial injuries, which were likely caused by flying glass or some other type of debris, according to his attorney, Don West.
"I don't believe he had a direct hit with a bullet," West said.
A police spokeswoman, Officer Bianca Gillett, described Zimmerman's wounds as "minor."
The incident is the latest in a string of well-publicized encounters with police since Zimmerman was acquitted on a charge he murdered Trayvon, a 17-year-old, unarmed black youth whose death became an international cause célèbre when Zimmerman wasn't immediately arrested.
Few details of Monday's incident were released, but Gillett said police became involved when Zimmerman flagged down an officer about 1 p.m. along busy Lake Mary Boulevard, near Rinehart Road.
Simultaneously, Gillett said, a "third party" called police on Apperson's behalf. Both Zimmerman and Apperson told police they'd been involved in a shooting, Gillett said.
Neither was facing charges Monday afternoon. Bracknell said both men had asked to speak to attorneys before questioning.
Late Monday, Mark NeJame of NeJame Law told reporters he'd been hired to represent Apperson. He did not explain what led to the shooting.
Apperson "simply maintained that he acted in self-defense," NeJame said. "We see everything to suggest that is correct and nothing to suggest otherwise but we do not think it is appropriate to get into any of the facts specifically right now."
Joining NeJame outside the Lake Mary Police Department was Apperson, his wife and his mother. The women spoke on his behalf.
"I have faith that the justice system is going to work in this case," Apperson's mother Janet White said. "Matt is a good man and I'm sorry this is happening to him."
Apperson's wife also gave a brief statement.
"I know the truth will prevail," Liza Apperson said at the Monday evening news conference, adding that she has known her husband since she was a teenager. The two have been married 11 years.
In September, Apperson called Lake Mary police to report that Zimmerman had threatened to shoot him while both were driving on Lake Mary Boulevard. Apperson elected not to press charges, so Zimmerman was not arrested.
Apperson called police again two days later, reporting that Zimmerman appeared to be following him. Police questioned Zimmerman, but Apperson again declined to press charges.
On Monday, news footage captured what appeared to be a bullet hole in the passenger-side window of Zimmerman's Honda Ridgeline SUV before it was towed from the scene shortly after the incident.
The shooting took place near the entrance to Trailhead Park, which provides access to a multiuse trail and pedestrian bridge that crosses Lake Mary Boulevard.
George Paschek, whose backyard is separated from that stretch of Lake Mary Boulevard by a brick wall, said he was working on his lawn Monday afternoon when he heard two bangs that sounded like gunfire.
"When the helicopters flew over, I started looking at the news," he said. His self-described reaction, upon learning the shooting involved the former Neighborhood Watch volunteer: "Zimmerman, holy smokes."
Zimmerman fatally shot Trayvon in Sanford on Feb. 26, 2012, after calling police to report the teenager as a suspicious person. Zimmerman was eventually charged with second-degree murder by a special prosecutor, but he was acquitted at trial in July 2013, on a self-defense argument.
Since then, he has had several run-ins with the law.
- In September 2013, his estranged wife and her father accused Zimmerman of threatening them with a gun as the couple tried to divide up their personal belongings. He was handcuffed that day but soon released.
- He spent two days in the Seminole County jail in November 2013 after his then-girlfriend accused him of threatening her with a shotgun, pushing her out the door of their home and locking it. She later recanted.
- He was arrested again Jan. 9, accused by Lake Mary police of aggravated assault, but prosecutors backed away from filing criminal charges in that domestic-violence case after they said his accuser changed her story.
Source: The Orlando Sentinel