By Howard Goodman
Florida Center for Investigative Reporting
ABC News has revealed that in the last moments of his life, Trayvon Martin was on a cellphone call to a teenage girl.
She heard him say that he was being hounded by a strange man with a cellphone who ran after him, caught up with him and confronted him.
Moments later, the 17-year-old black teenager was shot dead by George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old neighborhood watch volunteer in a gated community in Sanford, in Central Florida.
In a case that has sparked national outrage and protests, Zimmerman was not charged in the Feb. 26 killing after claiming self-defense. After weeks of inaction by local authorities, the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the FBI have opened an investigation.
ABC News was there exclusively when the 16-year-old girl told an attorney for the Martin family about her conversation in the moments before his the death. Her story is strong evidence that the “suspicious” teenager — far from posing trouble to the neighborhood, as Zimmerman was telling a police dispatcher — was himself frightened by the man who was watching him and did everything he could to avoid him.
The unnamed girl’s call logs show that she was talking with Martin five minutes before police arrived on the scene, ABC News said.
According to ABC News reporters Matt Gutman and Seni Tienabeso:
“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.
The teen, who was visiting from his home in Miami, was killed by Zimmerman while walking back to his father’s fiancé’s home after stepping out to buy Skittles and some iced tea during the NBA All-Star Game.