At the very least, a series of 46 emergency calls made by Zimmerman over the past six years document a man vigilant about keeping his neighborhood safe and orderly. The calls include complaints about unruly people at the pool, potholes, dumped trash, and kids playing in the street. In recent months, as the neighborhood saw an uptick in crime, including burglaries and a shooting, Zimmerman's calls had focused on specific suspects, the majority of them young black men.
But Zimmerman's family, his neighbors and his lawyer paint a different picture: That of a devoted neighbor, keen enough to protect the neighborhood that residents, in establishing a local Neighborhood Watch group last year, appointed him the captain. The organization was not registered with the national Neighborhood Watch program, but was set up with the assistance of the Sanford Police Department. Zimmerman initiated the program, according to Wendy Dorival, the department's volunteer coordinator.
Frank Taaffe, a neighbor, told CNN that Zimmerman "had a passion for the safety of our neighborhood and he demonstrated to the rest of us that one person could make a difference. And he was an average guy, just like me." In a separate interview, Mr. Taaffe told the Washington Post, “George is a good dude. He cares about this community. He’s not a vigilante out looking for trouble."
Zimmerman grew up in Manassas, Va., the son of a white father and a Latina mother. He attended a Catholic church, where he was an altar boy. In high school, he was the victim of an assault. He moved to Florida a decade ago, writing in his high school yearbook, “I'm going to Florida to work with my godfather who just bought a $1 million business.”