In a bizarre twist in a killing that has come to stand for deadly racial violence, it turns out that the great grandfather of Trayvon Martin's killer was African-Peruvian. George Zimmerman was generally regarded as trustworthy by his racially mixed Florida neighbors, who asked him to launch a community watch program last year after a string of burglaries (though few knew he was carrying a gun on patrol), according to a Reuters investigation based on extensive interviews with acquaintances, friends and relatives. He was encouraged by a police officer to get a gun after a pit bull menaced his wife in 2009. He did, and underwent firearms training.
He was raised in a deeply Catholic, racially integrated household. His maternal grandmother, whose father was Afro-Peruvian, helped raise him. Zimmerman may have been suspicious of Martin because the thieves he was watching out for were believed to be black teens, notes Reuters. "Let's talk about the elephant in the room," said a female neighbor. "I'm black, OK? There were black boys robbing houses in this neighborhood. That's why George was suspicious of Trayvon Martin." But Zimmerman also had a series of job setbacks and domestic violence issues, and was frustrated when police failed to catch burglary suspects stalking neighborhood homes.