Justice Dept.: Don't return George Zimmerman's gun

Justice Dept.: Don't return George Zimmerman's gun
Sanford police officer Timothy Smith holds up the gun that was used to kill Trayvon Martin, while testifying on day fifteen of George Zimmerman's trial in Seminole circuit court Sanford, Florida, June 28, 2013. UPI/Joe Burbank/Pool | License Photo

SANFORD, Fla., July 18 (UPI) -- The Sanford, Fla., Police Department said Thursday it won't return George Zimmerman's gun after the FBI requested evidence be preserved from his murder trial.

The Justice Department's investigation into whether Zimmerman violated Trayvon Martin's civil rights when he shot and killed the unarmed teen requires evidence to be preserved, even though Zimmerman was acquitted Saturday in his criminal trial.


"The evidence is just in a hold status, pending their DOJ investigation," the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel quoted Sanford police spokesman Capt. Jim McAuliffe as saying.

Zimmerman attorney Mark O'Mara had said earlier this week his client would get his gun back.

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Meanwhile, Martin's parents said they were shocked and disgusted when the Florida jury of six women found Zimmerman not guilty in the shooting death of their son.

"I really didn't believe that he was not guilty," Trayvon's mother, Sybrina Fulton, said Thursday on ABC's "Good Morning America." "My first thought was shock, disgust."

A six-person, all-female jury Saturday found Zimmerman, a 29-year-old Hispanic-American, not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter for shooting Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old black teen, Feb. 26, 2012, in Sanford, Fla. He said he shot Martin in self-defense.

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"I think people are forgetting that Trayvon was a teenager so he probably thought as a teenager," Fulton said. "I really do believe he was afraid because he did call George Zimmerman creepy. So he was afraid and if you are 17 years old and you are afraid, you may not know what to do."

The verdict prompted a wave of public outcry, including protest marches across the country.

Demonstrators held a peaceful rally in Beverly Hills, Calif., against the verdict, but 17 people were arrested during a rally that turned rowdy in Victorville Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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Protesters marched along busy Wilshire Boulevard during rush hour, carrying signs in support of Martin, police said.

In Victorville, 17 people, including eight juveniles, were arrested Wednesday night, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department said. Most of the arrests were for unlawful assembly.

"As parents understanding how they reached the verdict, I'll never grasp that concept," Martin's father, Tracy Martin, said on "Good Morning America." "Just as loving parents and God-fearing people, we just continue to pray that whatever was in their heart was what they intended to do. But we didn't feel it was fair and, of course, it was devastating."

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Zimmerman has been in hiding since the verdict. In an interview with ABC News, his parents, Gladys and Robert Zimmerman Sr., said they would tell Martin's parents they are sorry about what happened the night their son fatally shot the teenager, if given the opportunity.

"There's no winner in this situation," Martin said. "Obviously, we are devastated more."

Martin and Fulton have started a foundation named after their son and say they hope his death and the trial can serve as a catalyst to bring the country together.

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