Little but the most rudimentary facts are known about the shooting: On the night of February 17, Trayvon Martin, a black 17-year-old boy, was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old white man. (Some news accounts have described Zimmerman as Latino.) Prior to the shooting, Zimmerman, who was active in his gated community’s neighborhood watch, phoned the Sanford police department and reported a suspicious person whom he described as a male black wearing a dark “hoodie,” jeans or sweat pants, and white tennis shoes. Exactly why Zimmerman found Martin worthy of suspicion remains unclear, but he told the police dispatcher there had been some break-ins in the neighborhood, and that “this guy looks like he’s up to no good, or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.”
Moments after the call to police ended, Zimmerman shot Martin once in the chest, killing him. But why?
Zimmerman, who was licensed in Florida to carry a concealed weapon, told police he had fired in self-defense, but the details of his statement to investigators have not been made public. The dearth of details has not prevented an outcry calling for Zimmerman’s arrest for murder. So intense is the political pressure on prosecutors that Zimmerman will almost certainly be charged with a crime, but there is little chance he’ll be convicted of one, certainly not murder.