The police chief of the Florida town where George Zimmerman lives agreed in an email exchange that Zimmerman is a ”ticking time bomb” and a “Sandy Hook, Aurora, waiting to happen,” according to emails revealed by the website ThinkProgress.
Steve Bracknell, the chief of police in Lake Mary, verified the emails in an interview with NBC News Thursday, but downplayed the importance of the exchange. Bracknell said he was trying to reassure a citizen concerned with Zimmerman, who was acquitted of second-degree murder this summer in the killing of Trayvon Martin.
In those emails, Santiago Rodriguez wrote that “George is a ticking time bomb” and “Zimmerman is a Sandy Hook, Aurora waiting to happen” as he encouraged Bracknell to do more to “protect the communities you serve.” In his response, Bracknell said he agreed.
“Your reference to Sandy Hook…………………. I agree,” Bracknell wrote in one response, adding emphasis in the extended ellipsis. In another reaction he said he agreed with Rodriguez’s “final thoughts” that “George is a ticking time bomb,” who will snap “sooner or later.”
“I have some concerns,” Bracknell told NBC News in an interview when asked about Zimmerman and the email exchange. “I think a lot of people do.”
In the email exchanges, Bracknell said he would strongly consider revoking Zimmerman’s concealed carry permit if he could, but he lacked the jurisdiction to do so.
The police chief also responded to Rodriguez’s accusations that the Lake Mary Police Department was conspiring to protect Zimmerman, writing “REST ASSURED, the last thing on planet earth I want is ANY relationship with the Zimmermans. PERIOD.”
When asked about the emails, Bracknell told NBC News about the “pattern” of behavior seen from Zimmerman since his acquittal. Zimmerman, who says he acted in self-defense in the shooting death of Martin, retained his state-issued concealed-carry permit after a Florida jury found him not guilty. Bracknell pointed his concerns to recent speeding violations in Texas and Florida. In both instances, Zimmerman had a gun. ”Does anyone else except me see a pattern? The word firearm keeps popping up,” he said.
In the wake of the trial, Zimmerman’s defense attorney Mark O’Mara said his client would need to carry a firearm in order to protect himself.
In the 911 call recorded Monday, Shellie Zimmerman told the dispatcher that her estranged husband Zimmerman was “threatening” her and her father with his gun. “I don’t know what he’s capable of. I’m really, really scared,” she said.
According to police reports, Zimmerman did not have a gun on him when they arrived on the scene, but Bracknell said in the email exchange that the gun was in Zimmerman’s car but that police lacked the authority to search for it.
On Wednesday, Shellie Zimmerman’s lawyer clarified that she never saw a gun, but had reason to believe he was armed based on his behavior.
“Anybody in the world that knows their husband’s always armed, has his shirt worn differently, has a brand new holster, where this would be where he is placing his hand, and he’s inviting some trouble, would know he’s probably armed,” lawyer Kelly Sims said at a press conference. “You don’t want to take a chance. But add into that equation your husband happens to be named George Zimmerman. And what do you do?”
Police announced Wednesday they will not be making charges in the case “anytime soon” in part because they have been unable to retrieve video evidence recorded onto an iPad by Shellie Zimmerman that was destroyed during the incident.
When contacted by telephone on Friday, a spokesman for George Zimmerman’s lawyer Mark O’Mara said he had no comment on Bracknell’s email exchange or remarks to NBC.
NBC News’s Jamie Novograd contributed to this report.