Shooting targets resembling Trayvon Martin sold online

ORLANDO, Florida Fri May 11, 2012 6:16pm EDT

Related Topics

ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - Shooting targets resembling Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teenager shot to death in Florida by a neighborhood watch volunteer, were offered for sale online before the ads were pulled by the auction site.

The sale at an online gun broker's auction site started on April 22 and offered 40 10-packs of paper targets, according to a screen shot of the auction ad by WKMG-TV in Orlando before the ad was taken down.

The targets featured a silhouette of a faceless person wearing a hooded sweatshirt, known as a hoodie, and holding a bag of Skittles candy and a container of tea. In an email exchange with WKMG, the seller claimed to be motivated by profit and to have sold out in two days.

Martin was wearing a hoodie and returning from a convenience store with Skittles and tea when he was shot on February 26 in Sanford, Florida. Neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, 28, is awaiting trial for second-degree murder in the racially charged case.

"Obviously, we support Zimmerman and believe he is innocent and that he shot a thug," the seller wrote on the site, according to WKMG-TV.

Jay Zwitter, a sales representative for the auction site, Gunbroker.com, told Reuters the target ad was removed as soon as it came to the company's attention, but he declined to say how long the ad was on the site.

He said the company, which hosts 600,000 ads daily, has the right to remove ads, but wouldn't discuss the reason behind the removal.

"This is the highest level of disgust and the lowest level of civility," attorney Mark O'Mara, who represents Zimmerman, said of the ads, according to WKMG.

A representative for Martin's family could not immediately be reached for comment.

Authorities initially declined to arrest Zimmerman for the death of 17-year-old Martin, citing Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law, which allows people to use deadly force when they believe they are in danger of getting killed or suffering great bodily harm.

That decision prompted nationwide protests and accusations of racial bias. Zimmerman, who is white and Hispanic, was later charged by a special prosecutor appointed by the state's governor.

Hilary Shelton, director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's Washington bureau, criticized the targets.

"It's outrageous that someone would try and exploit such a horrific situation as an unarmed teen being gunned down, and profit off something so vile and disgusting as a gun target silhouette," Shelton said.

The seller, identified on the auction site as "Hillerarmco," could not be reached for comment. The Hillerarmco.com website, registered on April 20, was no longer available, and the seller's address was not functioning. An email from Reuters to the auction site went unanswered.

According to Tucows Domains database of website owners, the Hillerarmco.com website belonged to Hiller Armament Company in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The registrant and administrative contact names were listed as anonymous.

(Additional reporting by Chris Francescani; Editing by Jane Sutton, Cynthia Johnston and Eric Beech)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (5)
mulholland wrote:
Like special edition Nike’s you buy them for the $200 resale market.

May 11, 2012 9:26pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
RAML wrote:
To Reuters staff
Why is it needful to continually refer to the race of the two people involved. It is a bit racist and looks like you are trying to influence people thinking on this. The last question would be Why do you feel the term “white and Hispanic” is not racist when applied to Zimmerman and the term “white and Nigerian” is racist when applied to Obama?
And yea I expect this comment to be banned to.

May 11, 2012 10:18pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
TimBerton wrote:
Did any reporters see any of the actual targets?

Maybe this is just a hoax.

All the media appears to have is the word of an anonymous seller and a graphic of the target in an ad.

May 12, 2012 9:09am EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.