Attorney: Man shot at George Zimmerman in self-defense

Attorney: Man shot at George Zimmerman in self-defense

LAKE MARY, Fla. — The attorney for a Seminole County man accused of shooting at George Zimmerman during a road rage incident on Monday said he opened fire in self-defense.

Police said the shooting stemmed from an incident on Lake Mary Boulevard and involved Matthew Apperson, of Winter Springs, a man involved in another confrontation with Zimmerman in September.

"He simply maintained that he acted in self-defense," attorney Mark NeJame said. "We see everything to suggest that that is correct."

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A bullet struck Zimmerman's driver's-side window and he was hit by glass and other debris, said his attorney, Don West.

"His injuries would be considered minor," West said. "The bullet missed his head. I think it broke a window and lodged in his vehicle."

Authorities said Zimmerman did not return fire. He flagged down a local officer about the same time Apperson called 911, authorities said in a news conference on Monday.

"George absolutely denies having shown it, waved, displayed, pointed it," West said of Zimmerman's gun.

Apperson didn't want to discuss the ordeal while on a smoke break outside the Lake Mary Police Department.

"This is your opportunity to get out of my face right now. No comment!" Apperson told Channel 9's Mario Boone.

A witness to the incident, Kenneth Cornell, said Apperson approached him and told him to call 911 right after the shooting.

"I was coming back from lunch and a guy was screaming out his window, 'Please call 911. Please call 911,'" Cornell said. "He's like, 'I shot George Zimmerman. Please call 911. I need someone to call.'"

Cornell said Apperson claimed that this was the third confrontation between him and Zimmerman.

"He said this is the third incident. They've been going back and forth for the last three months," said Cornell.

Police said they are working to determine exactly what led up to the shooting. So far, no arrests have been made, and no charges have been filed.

Authorities towed Zimmerman's truck, while a second vehicle was later hauled away.

"I was working in the backyard and I heard the shots, and I said, 'That sounded like gunshots,'" said witness George Paschek. "I heard two (shots). I didn't hear no crashes, cars hitting each other or anything like that."

Zimmerman was taken to Central Florida Regional Hospital, and was quickly released.

In the September incident, Zimmerman was questioned after he and Apperson allegedly got into a shouting match on Lake Mary Boulevard. Apperson told police he didn't want to press charges despite claiming Zimmerman showed up at his workplace two days later threatening to kill him.

Channel 9 looked into Apperson's history with law enforcement and learned he's been arrested at least six times in Seminole County, twice for drug possession in 1995 and 1998, twice for DUI in 2000 and once for trespassing.

Earlier this year, the Department of Justice said it would not pursue civil rights charges against Zimmerman in the 2012 shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford.

Zimmerman was acquitted in the killing in 2013.

Since then, Zimmerman has had several brushes with the law, including:

  • In September 2013, Zimmerman was accused by his estranged wife of smashing an iPad during an argument at the home they had shared. Shellie Zimmerman initially told a dispatcher her husband had a gun, though she later said he was unarmed. No charges were filed because of a lack of evidence. The dispute occurred days after Shellie Zimmerman filed divorce papers.
  • In November 2013, he was arrested on charges of aggravated assault, battery and criminal mischief after his then-girlfriend said he pointed a gun at her face during an argument, smashed her coffee table and pushed her out of the house they shared. Samantha Scheibe decided not to cooperate with detectives, and prosecutors didn't pursue the case.
  • Last September, a driver said Zimmerman threatened to kill him, asking "Do you know who I am?" during a road confrontation in their vehicles. The driver decided not to pursue charges, and police officers were unable to move forward without a car tag identified or witnesses.