Phone number blunder ends in death threats

File photo from a rally held in Trayvon Martin's memory. Misdirected anger toward a man who was assigned Martin's accused killer's phone number has forced him to move. Photo / AP
File photo from a rally held in Trayvon Martin's memory. Misdirected anger toward a man who was assigned Martin's accused killer's phone number has forced him to move. Photo / AP

A man assigned the old phone number of a Florida neighbourhood watch volunteer charged with murder for shooting dead an unarmed black teenager is seeking compensation, after a rash of threatening calls.

Junior Alexander Guy, 49, got his first cell phone last month. Immediately he was besieged by callers angry at George Zimmerman. "You murderer!" "You deserve to die!"

The phone rang round the clock. "At 2 o'clock, 3 o'clock in the morning I kept getting these," he told the daily Orlando Sentinel.

Zimmerman had spelled out the number to a police dispatcher in a recorded call the night of the shooting and it has since been circulated in news reports and is available on the internet.

Guy, who eventually figured it out, told the Sentinel he was forced to move out of his home and relocate his mother who had lived with him.

"I was not only afraid for my life, I was afraid for my mother's," he said.

Orlando lawyer Robert Trimble has asked T-Mobile to pay damages, "a fair and reasonable sum" to Guy, but the cell phone provider, according to reports, has said no.

Instead, T-Mobile at Trimble's request changed the number on Thursday, retired the old number, provided an account credit and waived an early termination fee.

Zimmerman, who is currently in jail awaiting trial on a second-degree murder charge, shot Trayvon Martin dead on February 26 as the 17-year-old was returning from a run to a local store in Sanford, Florida to buy a drink and a packet of Skittles.

The high-profile race case sparked protests across the United States in March and April as anger spread over the delay in pressing charges against Zimmerman, who insists he shot in self-defence and was within his rights under Florida's controversial "Stand Your Ground" law.

- AFP

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