SANFORD, Fla. - Minutes after George Zimmerman was found not guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Trayvon Martin, police surrounded the community where the unarmed teen was shot and killed.
Police swarmed the Retreat at Twin Lakes, a gated community in Sanford, as a precaution following the verdict, which was delivered late Saturday after the jury deliberated for nearly 15 hours.
"There is no party in this case who wants to see any violence," Seminole County Sheriff Don Eslinger said immediately after jurors began deliberating. "We have an expectation upon this announcement that our community will continue to act peacefully."
Zimmerman, 29, blinked and barely smiled as the verdict was read. Zimmerman's wife, Shellie Zimmerman, had tears in her eyes after the six-member, all-woman jury delivered its verdict.
Tracy Martin, the father of Trayvon Martin, tweeted, "Thanks to everyone who are with us and who will be with us (so) we together can make sure that this doesn't happen again."
He later tweeted, "Even though I am broken hearted my faith is unshattered I WILL ALWAYS LOVE MY BABY TRAY."
Supporters of Martin's family who had gathered outside the courthouse yelled out, "No! No!"
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The verdict came a year and a half after civil rights protesters angrily demanded Zimmerman be prosecuted. That anger appeared to return Saturday night outside the courthouse, at least for some who had been following the case.
Rosie Barron, 50, and Andrew Perkins, 55, both black residents of Sanford, stood in the parking lot of the courthouse and wept.
"I at least thought he was going to get something, something," Barron said.
"How the hell did they find him not guilty?" her brother added.
Perkins was so upset he was shaking.
"He killed somebody and got away with murder," Perkins shouted, looking in the direction of the courthouse. "He ain't getting no probation or nothing."
Entertainer Steve Harvey tweeted, "A Child is Dead & The Man that Killed Him is Free & Again The Child is Black...My Country Tis of Thee?"
The jury had been given the chance to convict Zimmerman of manslaughter but did not do so, despite asking for a clarification of the charge earlier in the evening.
After hearing the verdict, Judge Debra Nelson told Zimmerman he was free to go.
Jurors heard two different portraits of Zimmerman and had to decide whether he was a wannabe cop who took the law into his own hands or a well-meaning neighborhood watch volunteer who shot the unarmed teenager in self-defense because he feared for his life.
The NAACP tweeted after the verdict, saying, "Zimmerman acquitted on all charges. We will update you as we work to pursue civil rights charges against Zimmerman through the DOJ."
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