George Zimmerman was shot in the face Monday by a bullet believed to have been fired by a man he knew—and had already fought with in his own pickup truck months ago, Lake Mary, Florida cops confirmed.
Zimmerman, 31, was behind the wheel of his charcoal-colored Honda Ridgeline SUV on Lake Mary Boulevard when he and Matthew Apperson began squabbling with each other around 1 p.m., police said. The heated exchange somehow led to a gun being pulled and fired, leaving a gaping hole in the passenger window and striking Zimmerman’s in the head, according to police.
Apperson, 36, was the only person to fire a shot, cops say, but it’s unknown if Zimmerman drew a weapon or had one with him during the confrontation.
Zimmerman, who is most famous for being found not guilty in the shooting death of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in February 2012, suffered an injury during the alleged attack. He was recovering at a nearby hospital on Monday night, authorities confirmed.
Lake Mary Police Deputy Chief Colin Morgan told The Daily Beast that “it looks like [Zimmerman] is going to survive” the attack.
“It doesn’t appear to be a mortal wound,” he said.
While Zimmerman, according to a police spokeswoman, “flagged down a Lake Mary Police officer,” it was Apperson who called 9-1-1 to inform the cops he had been involved in the shooting incident, a police spokeswoman told reporters earlier today.
Zimmerman had explained to the officer that “someone had shot at him and his vehicle,” the spokeswoman said.
After pulling the trigger, Apperson sounded off that he’d struck the polarizing figure. “He said ‘Please call 9-1-1, please call 9-1-1—I just shot George Zimmerman,’” Kenneth Cornell, who was at the scene, told an NBC affiliate.
Apperson left the Lake Mary Police Department late Monday night. His attorney says Apperson acted in self-defense.
Jose Ortiz, 38, was driving on the gridlocked Lake Mary Blvd.
He had no clue until he passed by the scene that there was a shooting. “We were wondering what was wrong and why there was so much traffic and now we know it was because someone shot [George] Zimmerman.”
Both men had been in a similar skirmish with each other last September, according to the Deputy Chief.
“[The shooter] was involved in another incident with George Zimmerman a while back,” said Morgan. “That was another road rage incident some time ago."
The Daily Beast spoke briefly with Apperson’s sister, Susan, who acknowledged her brother’s tumultuous past with Zimmerman, but hadn’t heard about what happened earlier today. “I don’t know anything, but I do remember the other incident [involving Zimmerman],” she said.
In the September 8, 2014 confrontation, Apperson said Zimmerman threatened his life.
According to 9-1-1 dispatch tapes, Apperson told a dispatcher he was listening to music in his car while Zimmerman “almost hit my car and he said he would shoot me then.”
"I was in my car, rapping to myself with my windows up. And I looked over, and it's—George Zimmerman was the driver. And they were threatening to kick my ass and to shoot me."
Apperson claims Zimmerman and another passenger in his truck had every intention to rattle him.
According to a police report, Apperson said Zimmerman screamed, "Do you know who I am?” Then, the report states, he shouted, "I'll fucking kill you."
And a day after the dustup, Apperson told an emergency dispatcher that Zimmerman and his pal were stalking him at his workplace.
“It seems like the guy is sitting there, waiting for me,” Apperson said in the 9-1-1 call. “It’s disheartening to see him lurking around here.”
Deputy Chief Morgan confirmed to The Daily Beast that a weapon was flashed in the 2014 altercation.
“A gun was displayed, but no shooting took place. No one got shot in that incident," Deputy Chief Morgan said.
Zimmerman admitted to Lake County Police that he and the anonymous man had a confrontational exchange.
Despite all the gun toting and alleged threats, no charges were brought. “No one wanted to prosecute, so it wasn’t a big incident,” he said.
Monday’s run-in comes two years after Zimmerman’s headline-grabbing acquittal in the death of Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman argued that he shot the young, unarmed teen in self-defense.
Weeks after he was found not guilty, Zimmerman allegedly inflicted a red welt on his father-in-law’s face when he knocked off his glasses with his hand, according to police reports. Police reports allege Zimmerman then raised his shirt to reveal “what [Shellie] assumed was a gun when [Zimmerman] said to her father, ‘Step closer!’”
The disturbance was recorded by his then-wife, Shellie Zimmerman, on an iPad she shared with Zimmerman. But according to police reports, Zimmerman destroyed the device and cops (including the Secret Service) were unable to recover the footage. No charges stuck.
George Zimmerman and his wife have since divorced.
The couple had tried counseling but, years before, Shellie alleges George struck her in the mouth with an open palm while en route to see the psychiatrist.
A few years before, Zimmerman was romantically tied to then-31-year-old hairstylist Veronica Zuazo, who filed a restraining order against him. She claimed Zimmerman was following her around her home, which ultimately led Zuazo’s dog to bite him.
Today, Zimmerman’s brother Robert tweeted his appreciation for the prayers he says he’s received. “Thank you for the prayers. Thank you so much. We need them. All of us.”