Trayvon Martin, the unarmed Florida teenager shot by neighborhood-watch enforcer George Zimmerman in late February, was on the phone with a friend minutes before he died, ABC News reports today. According to the 16-year-old girl’s account, Martin knew he was being followed on the walk back to his father’s house, adding an alternative view to the now-public 911 calls from Zimmerman and various neighbors. A dispatcher can be heard on tape asking Zimmerman, who was licensed to carry a gun and has claimed self-defense, not to follow Martin, while some journalists contend that the shooter muttered a racial slur during the call. As public interest in the case mounts, and investigations ramp up both locally and nationally, every new bit of news looks more troubling for Zimmerman, who has not been arrested or charged.
After a weekend in which the story swept national newspapers and airwaves, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the FBI announced an investigation. A grand jury will also examine the shooting beginning April 10, State Attorney Norm Wolfinger announced today.
But the version of events from Martin’s friend is just devastating:
“He said this man was watching him, so he put his hoodie on. He said he lost the man,” Martin’s friend said. “I asked Trayvon to run, and he said he was going to walk fast. I told him to run but he said he was not going to run.”
Eventually he would run, said the girl, thinking that he’d managed to escape. But suddenly the strange man was back, cornering Martin.
“Trayvon said, ‘What, are you following me for,’ and the man said, ‘What are you doing here.’ Next thing I hear is somebody pushing, and somebody pushed Trayvon because the head set just fell. I called him again and he didn’t answer the phone.”
The line went dead. Besides screams heard on 911 calls that night as Martin and Zimmerman scuffled, those were the last words he said.