Zimmerman's comments on a 911 tape from the night of the shooting that “These [expletive] always get away,” and speculation about whether he uttered a racial slur before following Trayvon on foot support the idea that Zimmerman's frustration with a crime wave in the Retreat at Twin Lakes had boiled over into vigilantism.
Zimmerman has contended that he was on his way back to his SUV after following Trayvon when he was attacked. Police found Zimmerman with a bloody nose and blood on the back of his head. His lawyer says Zimmerman's nose was broken.
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.