George Zimmerman is back in the news, once again in his role as a wannabe security officer.
Zimmerman, the ex-neighborhood watch volunteer acquitted in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, was spotted by police just after midnight Monday sitting in his pickup with his dog behind a motorcycle and gun shop, Pompano Pat’s, in DeLand, Fla., according to news reports.
Zimmerman told police, who questioned him, that he had permission from the owner, Pat Johnson, to work night security following a recent burglary, the Associated Press reported. But Tuesday, store manager Sam Porter said he had not been hired to do anything of the kind.
Johnson is running for mayor of DeLand. A spokesman for the shop claimed the Zimmerman story was “nothing more than a negative political campaign stunt” designed to smear the candidate’s campaign.
“ANY and ALL reports made to the media or other agencies that Pompano Pat’s or its Corporate President Pat Johnson hired George Zimmerman as a ‘Security Guard or Night Watchman’ are 100% false. Our company and its founders learned of his recent sighting from mass media reports,” Pompano Pat’s spokesman Tim Franklin said in a statement sent to the Daytona Beach News-Journal. “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. This stunt establishes an all new low in Florida Politics.”
That was a reference to Mayor Bob Apgar, Johnson’s challenger. Apgar told the News-Journal that police video footage, which is public, documents Zimmerman telling police officers he was there with the owner’s okay.
“Mr. Zimmerman made statements to police that would indicate he was there with my opponent’s knowledge,” he told the newspaper. “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.”
In addition, DeLand police Deputy Chief Randel Henderson sent out a statement Tuesday saying: “Every indication illustrates that Mr. Zimmerman was at the store with the knowledge of the owner.”
Police did not issue Zimmerman any citations Monday because there “was no evidence to support that a crime had occurred or was about to occur.”
Johnson confirmed he knows Zimmerman but told WKMG-TV he did not hire him to handle security.
“I didn’t okay it. I didn’t know about it. I didn’t authorize it. I didn’t pay for it,” he said. “He had just watched Facebook and the news and just took it upon himself to come up here and sit.”
“I sent him a text message telling him not to come back to the store anymore,” he added.