Four months after he was acquitted of Trayvon Martin’s murder, three months after going shopping for a new weapon, and two months after a skirmish with his estranged wife and father-in-law, George Zimmerman is behind bars again after allegedly threatening his reportedly pregnant girlfriend with a shotgun.
In his fifth brush with the law since his controversial July acquittal, the former neighborhood watch captain is accused of breaking up with his blonde live-in lover Samantha Scheibe, 27, in dramatic style—pointing a long-barrelled shotgun at her, smashing a table in their love-nest, pushing her out of the front door, then barricading himself inside, according to police.
Sheriff’s deputies requested a search warrant following the Monday afternoon incident at Scheibe’s rented home in Apopka, central Florida.
“We believe that there were at least two weapons inside the house,” said Chief Deputy Dennis Lemma, of Seminole County Sheriff’s Office. “She was concerned for her safety.”
Zimmerman, 30, has been charged with aggravated assault—a felony charge—in addition to two misdemeanors of battery and criminal mischief. He will appear in court via live video link from John Polk Correctional Facility on Tuesday afternoon.
Since a jury found him not guilty of the February 2012 murder of Martin, 17, Zimmerman has been living largely in hiding. Martin, a black student wearing a hoodie, had been walking to his father’s house after a trip to a local store when Zimmerman mistakenly profiled him as a “suspicious person” and pursued him. In an ensuing physical struggle, Zimmerman shot the teenager clean through the heart, claiming afterwards that he did so in self-defense after Martin turned on him and threatened his life.
But in the four months since his acquittal, Zimmerman has had several more brushes with the law—three for traffic offenses and one over an allegedly violent showdown with his estranged wife Shellie, who announced in September that she was divorcing him.
Ironically, it was Samantha Schiebe who was at Zimmerman’s side when his estranged wife called police to her parents’ home in Lake Mary on September 9. (The couple has been living together since August.) But on Monday, it was Scheibe’s turn to call 911.
“When we arrived, the victim indicated that she and George Zimmerman were having a verbal dispute and at that time she alleged that he had broken a table and pointed a long-barrel shotgun at her,” said Lemma.
She worked her way to the front door of the residence and dialed emergency services on her cell phone, whereupon Zimmerman “pushed her out the front of the residence and then barricaded the front door with some furniture.”
When sheriff’s deputies arrived three minutes or so later, Scheibe gave them a key to let themselves in. They pushed their way past the barricade and found Zimmerman, who appeared by that point to have shed his aggression. “The easiest way to describe it is ‘rather passive,’” said Lemma, describing the accused’s demeanor. “He offered no resistance and cooperated the entire time.”
Lemma added: “We don’t know exactly what the argument was about. We believe it was about some type of separation from the relationship.”
Recordings of 911 calls released Monday night reveal that, according to Zimmerman, the argument stemmed from the news that Scheibe is pregnant with his child. Police had earlier denied reports that she is pregnant. Scheibe herself did not mention it during her 911 call.
"I need police right now," she is heard pleading. "He's in my house breaking all my things because I asked him to leave. He has his frickin' gun breaking all my stuff right now," adding in an aside to Zimmerman: "You just broke my glass table, you broke my sunglasses and you put your gun in my frickin' face and told me to get the fuck out—but this isn't your house."
"He has everything of mine inside," she tells the despatcher after allegedly being pushed out of the front door by Zimmerman. "He knows how to do this. He knows how to play this game."
Once he saw police arrive on the doorstep, and knock on the front door, Zimmerman decided that he would get his version out too. "My girlfriend has, for lack of a better word, gone crazy on me," he claimed, volunteering a claim that he never produced or displayed a firearm but that in the course of her "throwing my stuff" one may have come into view. So where is it now, the despatcher asked him. "It's in a bag. Locked," he responded.He added: "She's pregnant with our child and she told me I'm better co-parenting if she raises the child on her own and that's fine. I said 'Is that what you want to do?' and she said 'Yes.' So as soon as I started packing up my stuff to leave she completely changed...She just started smashing stuff, taking stuff that belonged to me...she broke the glass table because she just threw something at it. She got mad, I guess, that I told her that I'd be willing to leave. I guess she thought I was going to argue with her but she's pregnant, I'm not going to put her through that kind of stress."
Asked by the despatcher why he did not just open the door to the police, who can be heard in the background knocking on the door, he answers: "I just want everyone to know the truth." So talk to them, the despatcher urges him, to which Zimmerman responds: "They're pretty upset, I think. They're banging on the door and the window. I don't have anything to say."
Zimmerman was ordered to take anger management classes in 2005 after a run-in with a police officer who was arresting a friend for drunkenness and later the same year was the subject of a restraining order by a girlfriend who accused him of domestic violence. Zimmerman filed a counter restraining order, accusing her of the same.
The controversial not-guilty murder verdict in July relating to Martin’s death left Zimmerman feeling “invincible,” his estranged wife, Shellie, claimed in a September 26 interview on NBC’s Today show, after announcing that she was divorcing him.
She was once so devoted to her husband that she had lied to a judge under oath while testifying about their joint finances in the lead-up to the murder trial in Sanford—a perjury that earned her a year’s probation and 100 hours community service. Now she was “starting to see things differently” and doubting his innocence, she ceded, adding: “I don’t know the person that I’ve been married to.”
He had become selfish—“George is all about George,” she said—and had been making “reckless decisions” such as posing for smiley-faced photos at a gun factory in Cocoa, Florida, while shopping for a new weapon.
But Steve Bracknell, chief of Lake Mary Police Department, went further in his assessment of Zimmerman in a September 10 email to Santiago Rodriguez, a concerned resident who had contacted him to complain over the department’s failure to arrest Zimmerman for his bust-up with his estranged wife the previous day.
The chief agreed with Rodriguez’s assessment that Zimmerman was a “ticking time bomb” and a “Sandy Hook, Aurora, waiting to happen.”
“REST ASSURED…the last thing on planet earth I want is ANY relationship with the Zimmermans. PERIOD,” Bracknell wrote, confirming that Zimmerman had punched his father-in-law on the nose and smashed his estranged wife’s iPad over his knee on September 9, but that both alleged victims had declined to press charges.
“In hindsight, I should’ve and I really regret that,” Shellie Zimmerman later stated. “But I’m on probation and the officers made it very clear that day if I pressed charges we were all going to go to jail and I would’ve been the only one to stay there.”
Zimmerman is now inmate number 201300012785 at the John
Polk Correctional Facility in Sanford, Florida—the same jail in which he was held during some of the lead-up to his July trial. He is being checked on hourly in his single-occupancy, 64-square-foot cell.
“Inmate may not be bailed,” his booking sheet notes, also recording the fact that Zimmerman has $144 in his account to spend at the commissary, where during his prior incarceration he splurged on Cheez-Its, animal crackers, peanut M&Ms, strawberry Pop-Tarts, and new underpants.