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Trayvon Martin shooting: Gun that killed teen was fired once

By Rene Stutzman and Bianca Prieto, Orlando Sentinel

12:07 AM EDT, March 20, 2012

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SANFORD — The handgun that killed Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black 17-year-old, was fired once — not twice — by a neighborhood crime watch volunteer, according to information obtained by the Orlando Sentinel.

Police found a single shell casing at the scene, and when they seized George Zimmerman's handgun, a Kel Tec 9 mm, its magazine was full, according to a source close to the investigation. The only bullet missing was the one in the chamber, the source said.

That contrasts with the graphic interpretation that lawyers for the victim's family made Friday night after listening to 911 calls from neighbors who heard or saw a fight between Zimmerman and Trayvon.

Lawyers Natalie Jackson and Benjamin Crump insisted then that they could hear two shots on one 911 call, a warning shot and a kill shot, and that that proved Zimmerman was a murderer.

"You hear a shot, a clear shot then you hear a 17-year-old boy begging for his life then you hear a second shot," Jackson said.

Those statements fueled a great deal of anger and frustration among those following the case in cyberspace. Twitter, Facebook and other social media exploded with news that two shots were fired.

Jackson and Crump were not available for comment Monday evening, but a prepared statement released by their spokesman said, "Regardless of how many times George Zimmerman pulled the trigger that night, unfortunately for Trayvon Martin, it only took a single bullet to end his life."

Their Friday night statements about the two loud bangs on the recording run counter to other evidence. Three witnesses who have made public statements described a single shot.

Sanford police would not discuss gun evidence.

Earlier Monday, in a scene reminiscent of a 1960s civil-rights rally, college students on Monday gathered outside the Seminole County criminal courthouse, sang "We Shall Overcome" and demanded Zimmerman's immediate arrest.

"This is not acceptable," said Jason Reed, 25, a Florida A&M University student. "There was a time when this was acceptable. That time is not now."

An estimated 75 protesters gathered near the building's front door, chanting, "We want justice now!"

They demanded and got a meeting with Pat Whitaker, chief of operations at the State Attorney's Office and the person now in charge of Trayvon's case. Whitaker's boss, State Attorney Norm Wolfinger, will have the final say.

For an hour, Whitaker sat with four protest leaders, including Shelton Marshall, a student at FAMU's college of law.

Marshall emerged saying, "Are we satisfied? No. We appreciate the gesture."

Zimmerman has not been arrested and that has set off a firestorm of public outrage.

Whitaker said the investigation would take weeks and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is working with his office to determine whether Zimmerman's self-defense claim is viable.

That, though, was not good enough for Ese Ighedosa, one of the students who talked to Whitaker. He and Sanford police, she said, appear to be defending rather than prosecuting the killer.

"It seems all the people are on Trayvon's side," she said. "The government is on Zimmerman's side."

Trayvon was shot about 7:15 p.m. Feb. 26 while walking through a Sanford gated community, returning from a 7-Eleven, where he'd bought Skittles and a can of Arizona iced tea.

Sanford police say they cannot arrest Zimmerman because he claims self-defense and evidence backs that up, including witness accounts and what officers saw when they arrived: Zimmerman with a bloody nose.

Zimmerman had called police to report a suspicious person: Trayvon. Zimmerman then stepped out of his SUV, while still on the phone with police, and followed the teenager on foot. The two somehow came face to face on a sidewalk; there was a fight, and Trayvon wound up dead, a single gunshot to the chest.

Trayvon's mother, Sybrina Fulton, appeared Monday on NBC's"Today" show and said her son was mild-mannered, never got agitated and was followed by Zimmerman because of "the color of his skin."

"I just don't understand why the situation got out of control," she said.

Pressure mounted Monday for federal intervention as the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Emanuel Cleaver II, D- Missouri, called for theU.S. Department of Justiceto investigate Trayvon's shooting as a hate crime. U.S.Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus chairmanCharles A. Gonzalez, D-Texas, also have called for the department to intervene.

Also Monday, Gov. Rick Scott asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to get involved.

Sanford officials had hoped to sit down Tuesday with an official of the U.S. Department of Justice, an agency with a civil-rights division and a record of taking on race-charged criminal cases.

City officials hope that will quiet what has grown into a cause célèbre. On Thursday, activist Al Sharpton is to appear at Sanford's First Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church for a rally.

Sentinel reporters Amy Pavuk and Susan Jacobson contributed. rstutzman@tribune.com or 407-650-6394 and bprieto@tribune.com or 407-420-5620