The slaying of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by concealed handgun permit holder George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida has sparked nationwide outrage towards permissive gun laws in the Sunshine State. Even though Zimmerman had been arrested in 2005 for felony resisting arrest with violence and battery on a law enforcement officer, and had previously been subject to a domestic violence restraining order, he still obtained a concealed handgun permit under Florida's permissive "Shall-Issue" system.
Zimmerman was hardly the first individual with a history of violence to acquire a concealed handgun permit. A 2006 investigation by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel revealed that Florida issued concealed handgun permits to more than 1,400 people who plead guilty or no contest to felonies; 216 people with outstanding warrants, including for murder; 28 people with active domestic violence restraining orders against them; and 6 registered sex offenders. Nor was Zimmerman the first concealed carry killer to avoid arrest under Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law, which eliminates the duty to retreat from a confrontation in public before employing deadly force. "Justifiable homicides" in Florida have increased from 43 the year the law was enacted in 2005 to 105 in 2009.
The following is a list of concealed handgun permit holders who have killed fellow Floridians under questionable circumstances since mid-2007. It was compiled from the Violence Policy Center's "Concealed Carry Killers" project and other sources.
On February 26, 2012, self-appointed neighborhood watch "captain" George Zimmerman, 28, shot and killed unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in a gated community in Sanford, Florida. Zimmerman reported the youth—who was staying at the home of his father's fiancee—to police dispatchers as a “suspicious” person before following and then ultimately killing him with a gunshot to the chest. After claiming self-defense under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, Zimmerman was questioned and then released without charge.
Zimmerman possesses a valid permit to carry a concealed handgun in Florida. In 2005, he faced felony charges for resisting arrest with violence and battery of a law enforcement officer. Zimmerman’s participation in a pre-trial diversion program allowed him to avoid a criminal conviction. That same year, he became subject to a restraining order after his ex-fiancé alleged domestic violence. Zimmerman was accused of striking her on at least two occasions and of groping her after she came home later than usual during a separate incident. The restraining order expired on August 24, 2006, making Zimmerman again eligible to possess a concealed handgun permit under Florida law.
On February 12, 2012, Moises Zambrana, 48, accidently discharged his handgun, resulting in the death of 20-year-old Hannah Kelley. The shooting occurred in Grace Connection Church in St. Petersburg, Florida while Zambrana was showing another congregation member his handgun. Although Zambrana thought the gun was unloaded, he left a bullet in the chamber, which was discharged through a wall before striking Kelley, the pastor’s daughter, in the head. She died in a hospital the following Saturday.
Zambrana possessed a permit to carry a concealed handgun at the time of the shooting and was also a licensed security officer. No charges have been filed in relation to the incident.
Justin Campos, 25, has been sentenced to life in prison for his role in a January 18, 2011 shooting that left two men dead. After engaging in an argument with another group of men outside of Lookers, a Fort Myers area strip club, Campos fatally shot Juan Miguel Sanchez-Perdomo, 20, and Carlos Deleon-Ortiz, 29.
The jury did not accept Campos’ claim of self-defense and convicted him of one count of second-degree murder and one count of manslaughter. Campos, a member of the National Rifle Association, held a Florida concealed handgun permit at the time of the killings.
Emanuel LaBoy "Emma" Rivera
On December 10, 2010, Emanuel Rivera, 26, fatally shot 25-year-old LeKeefe Lee. Rivera sold drugs out of his Daytona Beach, Florida home. Lee, a regular customer, left Rivera’s home with three ounces of marijuana that he had not paid for. Rivera followed Lee outside and shot him as he attempted to drive away. He then called 911 to report the incident and claimed that he acted in self-defense after fearing that Lee was reaching for a gun.
Rivera, who showed police a valid concealed handgun permit at the scene of the shooting, was charged with delivery of a controlled substance and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. He was later charged with second-degree murder.
On November 24, 2010, Thomas Baker, a 28-year-old resident of Town ‘n’ Country, Florida, decided to go for a 1:00 AM jog while carrying a loaded handgun and $950 cash. 18-year-old Carlos Mustelier saw Baker and decided to "bam him" (Mustelier knew Baker and his younger brother, who he had been in an altercation with previously). Mustelier was unarmed and punched Baker in the face. Baker responded by shooting Mustelier four times, including twice in the back, killing him.
Baker told police he believed that Mustelier had a gun, and was not charged with a crime. Baker possesses a valid permit to carry a concealed handgun.
On October 4, 2010, Leavitis Golphin was waiting for marijuana to be delivered to him for re-sell in Daytona Beach, Florida. As the product was was arriving, 24-year-old Armando Navarro shot the courier, Merton Lindsay, with a 9mm handgun. Golphin then shot and killed Narraro, who was described as a "home intruder" on a police report.
Golphin held a concealed handgun permit despite a felony and arrest record that included assaulting a police officer and threatening a public official. He was never arrested or charged in the killing of Navarro.
On September 26, 2010, Trevor Dooley, 69, shot and killed Iraq War veteran David James, aged 41, after a confrontation at a Valrico, Florida park. According to witnesses, Dooley approached the park and yelled at a teenager who was skateboarding on the basketball court. James, who was playing basketball with his eight-year-old daughter, asked Dooley to show him a sign stating that skateboarding is prohibited. Dooley began to walk towards James, and reached towards his waistband. The two men then struggled on the ground before Dooley fatally shot James.
Contradicting other witnesses’ accounts, all of whom described him as the aggressor, Dooley claimed that he shot James in self-defense after James knocked the gun out of his hand and began to choke him. Dooley, who possesses a permit to carry a concealed handgun, has been charged with first-degree manslaughter. A Florida circuit judge denied Dooley's motion for protection under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law in May 2012.
In August 2010, Leonard Murphy and Tarrence Gatlin met at in apartment complex parking lot to consummate a deal for $2,000 worth of prescription drugs. Gatlin, the 18 year-old seller, refused to hand over the drugs and attempted to rob Murphy, the buyer. Murphy, 25, shot Gatlin three times in response, killing him.
Murphy possessed a concealed handgun permit despite prior arrests for battery and discharging a firearm in public. He was never charged for killing Gaitlin.
In an attack targeting women, Gerardo Regalado, 38, shot seven women, killing four, at a Hialeah, Florida restaurant on June 6, 2010. After confronting and fatally wounding 24-year-old Liazan Molina, his estranged wife, he shot six more women before taking his own life.
Relatives described Regalado as abusive towards women and “pure evil.” At the time of the killings, Regalado possessed a valid permit to carry a concealed handgun issued by the state of Florida. The incident was described as the worst mass shooting on record in Hialeah. Regalado had served time in prison in Cuba for abusing women, and was rumored to have burned a girlfriend’s breasts before locking her in a pigpen.
Charles E. Ingram, Robert G. Webster
On April 28, 2010, neighbors Charles Ingram, 57, and Robert Webster, 63, engaged in a shootout that left both men dead. The men began to argue outside of their Orange Park, Florida homes before drawing their weapons and opening fire. Webster was hit in the torso and died shortly after the shooting. Ingram was shot in the head and died less than a month later.
Both men held valid permits to carry a concealed handgun.
On March 25, 2010, Leonel Marquetti, 51, shot Michael Hurlbutt to death after observing him leave his ex-girlfriend’s home in Plant City, Florida. Marquetti mistakenly believed that Hurlbutt, a 41-year-old handyman, was a romantic rival. His ex-girlfriend, Siglinde Sperber, described Marquetti as a hoarder who stalked and harassed her after the couple split up. Sperber testified that Marquetti placed a baby monitor under her bed in order to listen in on her phone calls and also installed a hidden camera in her garage.
After confronting and shooting Hurlbutt, Marquetti grabbed the phone that Sperber was using to call 911 to attempt to terminate the call. Marquetti, who possessed a permit to carry a concealed handgun, was convicted of first-degree murder.
On February 8, 2010, Roger Troy, 61, shot and killed 23-year-old Alissa Blanton—a woman he had been stalking—outside a call center where she worked in Orange County, Florida. The gunman then took his own life. Troy had been stalking Blanton for over two years, and just one week before the shooting, she had tried, but failed, to secure an emergency restraining order against him. Blanton’s petition contained 70 pages of harassing emails, and also indicated that Troy owned several firearms. Troy had also shown up at Blanton’s home and place of employment to harass her. Brevard County Circuit Court Judge Dean Moxley denied Blanton’s petition for lack of evidence.
Troy possessed a valid permit to carry a concealed handgun.
On January 1, 2010, James Menard, 23, used a .40 caliber handgun to kill 17-year-old Jake Couture. Menard showed up at a Naples area apartment complex to search for individuals that had allegedly robbed his friends earlier in the day. He confronted a group of teens before firing five shots from his handgun in their direction. Couture was killed and two others were injured.
Menard was sentenced to serve 30 years in prison for felony murder and other charges. During sentencing, Couture’s mother addressed Menard, stating, “You are firing a gun into a crowd of children. There’s no justification. It’s a choice that you made.” At the time of the shooting, Menard possessed a valid permit to carry a concealed handgun.
Paul Michael Merhige
On November 26, 2009, Paul Michael Merhige, 35, waited until Thanksgiving dinner was over before opening fire on his assembled family members in Jupiter, Florida. Of the 16 family members present, six were shot, and four died (Merhige's twin sisters, one of whom was pregnant; his 76-year-old aunt; and his 6-year-old cousin Makayla Sitton). According to Jim Sitton, Merhige's cousin-in-law, "He had this whole thing preplanned. His goal was to shoot his sisters and punish his parents." Merhige reportedly told the surviving family members that he had been waiting 20 years to launch his violent attack. In 2006, his sister Carla Merhige requested a restraining order against him after she alleged that he threatened to kill her and himself. When he was 13, he pointed a loaded gun at family members after an argument. During a different incident, Merhige shot himself in a suicide attempt, but survived. Family members told the Palm Beach Post that he had a long history of mental illness, including depression and obsessive compulsive disorder. Merhige fled the scene and was apprehended on January 2, 2010.
Merhige, who bought two handguns on the day before the shooting, was licensed to carry a concealed handgun in the state of Florida.
On August 24, 2009, Lenin Florian, 26, shot and killed David Hernandez, 33, in front of his family in Fort Myers, Florida. Florian, who was dating the mother of Hernandez's children, and Hernandez had argued before over visitation rights. A confrontation at a school bus stop resulted in the shooting death of Hernandez in front of his two children and mother. At trial, Florian claimed that Hernandez was "dangerous" and testified, "I kept telling him I have my gun and I don't want to use it. Back up, back up." According to Florian, Hernandez did not back up, although other witnesses disputed this account. A jury rejected Florian's claims and he was sentenced to serve 15 years in prison on manslaughter charges. During sentencing, the presiding judge told Florian, "It’s amazing how quickly people’s lives can change in a matter of a few moments. I don’t believe this was planned. I think it was very quick ... But I do believe Mr. Florian took someone’s life needlessly. He didn’t have to do what he did."
At the time of the shooting, Florian possessed a valid permit to carry a concealed handgun.
Humberto Delgado, Jr.
On August 19, 2009, Humberto Delgado, Jr. was approached by Tampa Police Cpl. Mike Roberts after Delgado was observed pushing a shopping cart containing a number of firearms. A scuffle ensued that resulted in Delgado, who was homeless, pistolwhipping Robert in the head until he was unconcious. Delgado then fatally shot Roberts. At trial, Delgado, who had been hospitalized for psychotic episodes three times, unsuccessfully asserted an insanity defense. According to his public defender, Delgado suffered from bipolar disorder. During setencing, widow Cindy Roberts, addressed Delgado, stating, "What bothers me most is that was the last face my husband saw on this Earth. Pure hate and evil, you coward. You murdered my husband in cold blood. You pistol whipped him until he was unconscious. He was no threat to you. But you intentionally and willfully shot him anyways, shooting him through the lungs and the heart." In February 2012, Delgado was setencing to death for his role in Robert's killing.
Delgado possessed a North Carolina permit to carry a concealed handgun, which was recognized as valid by the state of Florida.
On June 1, 2009, Narcisse Antoine, 29, shot two men, one fatally, after a confrontation outside of a West Palm Beach, Florida nightclub. Early that morning, Brandon Hammond and Jeffrey Thompson were kicked out of Mystic Lounge nightclub. The men stayed near the entrance, however, and began to harass other patrons. As Antoine exited the club, he blew a kiss to the men before shooting each of them multiple times. Hammond died after sustaining four gunshot wounds. Antoine left the scene of the shooting, but was later apprehended. Antoine claimed he acted in self-defense, but a jury disagreed and convicted him of attempted second degree murder for the shooting of Thompson. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison. Antoine will be retried for his involvement in Hammond's death.
At the time of the shooting, Antoine possessed a valid permit to carry a concealed handgun.
Andrew Sherman Conley
On October 24, 2008, Andrew Sherman Conley, 37, accidentally shot and killed his live-in girlfriend Theresa Anderson, 51, in Seminole County, Florida. The .22 caliber handgun discharged while Conley was showing it to Anderson. It wasn't the first accident involving Conley and a gun. Anderson had previously encouraged Conley to attend a firearms safety course after he accidently fired a gun in their home. He was sentenced to serve 13 years in prison on a manslaughter charge.
Conley, who considered himself an "amateur gunsmith," attended a safety course in 2005 and later obtained a concealed handgun permit.
On August 5, 2008, James Wonder, 65, shot and killed U.S. Customs and Border Protection Special Agent Donald Pettit after a road rage incident in Pembroke Pines, Florida. After miles of playing "chicken" on a highway and an exchange of curses, Wonder pulled off the road into a parking lot. Pettit followed him into the parking lot and both men exited their vehicles. Wonder then shot Pettit, who was unarmed, in the back of the head as the special agent's 12-year-old daughter looked on. Wonder then attempted to elude police by dying his hair, burying his firearm in his backyard, and driving in a rental car. After a massive 24-hour manhunt, however, he was apprehended by authorities at a dialysis clinic. Before he was apprehended, he told a nurse at a dialysis clinic that he had anger problems and needed counseling. While Wonder was initially charged with premeditated murder and held without bond, on August 28, 2008, a Broward County grand jury indicted him on the lesser charge of manslaughter. He then posted $10,000 bond and was released from jail. As of October 2011, the case had still not reached trial, as Wonder's attorney has argued that his client's actions constitute justifiable self-defense under Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law.
At the time of the shooting, Wonder possessed a valid permit to carry a concealed handgun in the state of Florida.
On July 3, 2008, Garrido shot and killed Josue Reyes in a Miami Beach, Florida parking lot. The two men, who both worked as taxi drivers, had feuded for a number of weeks. Garrido shot the unarmed Reyes two times. The second shot hit Reyes in the back as he attempted to escape. Garrido fled the scene but was apprehended by police a short time later and later convicted of second-degree murder.
Despite being convicted of aggravated assault with a weapon in 1997, Garrido possessed a valid permit to carry a concealed handgun at the time of the shooting.
Max Wesley Horn, Jr.
On March 29, 2008, Max Wesley Horn, Jr. shot and killed Joseph Martell after an argument outside a bar during the annual Chasco Fiesta in New Port Richey, Florida. Martell, 34, had exchanged words with relatives of Horn's during the day, and encountered them and Horn later that night outside Hot Shotz. There are different accounts of what happened next. Some say Martell punched Horn. Others didn't see a punch. Whatever the case, Horn drew a handgun and fired at Martell six times until the gun jammed, killing him. Martell was unarmed.
Horn, a concealed handgun permit holder, was charged with second-degree murder. He claimed immunity under the "Stand Your Ground" statute, but a judge denied that claim. He went to trial and was acquitted.
On March 22, 2008,Dam Lopez, 27, fatally shot his girlfriend Andrea Anzola Villafrade, 20, in a hotel in Marathon, Florida. While Lopez intially denied he knew how the gun discharged, it was later revealed that he wrapped his arms around her, pressing the gun into her ribs. Villafrade reportedly said, "Damian, don’t play like that," before the gun was fired. Lopez initially faced up to 30 years in prison, but later pled guilty to manslaughter and was setenced to a term of just 30 months.
At the time of the shooting, Lopez possessed a permit to carry a concealed handgun.
On March 8, 2008, Arthur Burroughs, 66, shot and killed neighbor Lance Lather before taking his own life in south Florida. Burroughs was pursuing his wife, Christine Burroughs, as she attempted to escape his violent attacks. Christine Burroughs was able to take refuge inside Lather's house, but Arthur Burroughs forced his way into the home and shot Lather. After a standoff with law enforcement authorities, Burroughs took his own life.
Burroughs, who possessed a permit to carry a concealed handgun, was reportedly angry that his wife wanted a divorce.
On February 28, 2008, Gabriel Mobley, 31, fatally shot two 24-year-old men, Jason Jesus Gonzalez and Rolando Carrazana, in a Chili's Grill & Bar restaurant parking lot in North Miami-Dade, Florida. Mobley claimed that he acted in self-defense in shooting Carrazana (who he said was reaching for his waistband), and denied shooting Gonzalez. Video surveillence of the incident showed Mobley shooting both men, one of whom "whose hands were raised and free from any objects or weapons." Another witness said that Mobley shot Gonzalez and then fired upon Carrazana as he turned to run.
Mobley, who possessed a permit to carry a concealed handgun, was charged with second degree murder. His attorney filed a motion to dismiss the charges under Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law.
During a February 2008 dispute in a convenience store in North Tamiami Trail, Florida, Paul Kallenbach, 41, shot and killed 35-year-old Jon Teko Howard. Kallenbach was armed with two handguns when he visited a North Tamiami Trail, Florida convenience store to purchase a newspaper. The men engaged in a verbal argument in the store before Kallenbach pulled a handgun out of his fannypack. Howard first tried to flee the store, but then lunged towards Kallenbach's gun. The two men wrestled on the ground and Howard grabbed one of Kallenbach's firearms. Shots were exchanged, and Howard was killed, while Kallenbach survived after being shot twice. During the incident, Kallenbach also fired on a car driving past the store.
Several months earlier, police had confiscated firearms and ammunition from Kallenbach after he approached a police car and told an officer that he had weapons. Sarasota Police Capt. Stan Duncan stated that Kallenbach acted "paranoid" and "confused" during the encounter and he told other officers, "we’ll hear from this guy again." A judge ordered the guns returned to Kallenbach. Officer Duncan complained that there was not a thorough review of Kallenbach's mental state before his firearms were returned, but the judge said she had few options to prohibit the return of the weapons. Kallenbach was setenced to 18 years in prison for killing Howard.
At the time of the shooting, Kallenbach possessed a permit to carry a concealed handgun.
Michael Leopold Phillips
On January 19, 2008, Michael Leopold Phillips fatally shot his wife Josefina Boza before taking his own life. Since 1988, Phillips had been arrested at least three times for domestic violence against an ex-wife and had also been subject to a restraining order from 1988 to 1990. At the time of the shooting, Phillips possessed a valid permit to carry a concealed handgun.
On January 7, 2008, Adam Hill entered a friend's apartment and asked Clayton Patterson if he would like to be shot before fatally shooting him with a revolver. He was charged with second degree murder. Hill had been previously been charged with illegally carrying a concealed weapon, but when he failed to show up to court, the charge was dismissed. Hill also reportedly suffered from mental illness. He obtained a concealed handgun permit in 2007.
On September 22, 2007, Guillermo Zarabozo, 19, and Kirby Archer, 35, chartered the 47-foot boat "Joe Cool" for a trip to the Bahamas. While en route, Zarabozo and Archer fatally shot the captain of the boat, Jake Branam; his wife, Kelly Branam; and crew members Scott Gamble and Samuel Kairy. After Zarabozo and Archer were found 12 miles away from Joe Cool on an inflatable life raft, they claimed that hijackers were responsible for the murders.
Zarabozo, who was accepted into a police training program shortly before the murders, possessed a valid permit to carry a concealed handgun. He was convicted of four counts of first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.
Antonio Olo Duran
After a May 8, 2007 argument, Antonio Olo Duran, 40, fatally shot romantic rival Richard Scoggins, 39. Duran, Scoggins, and a woman that Scoggins was currently dating (but Duran used to date) went out for a meal together, and later that evening Duran became agitated. After making several trips to the bathroom, Duran produced a handgun and fatally shot Scoggins before taking his own life. Duran possessed a valid permit to carry a concealed handgun.
Late one evening in Boynton Beach, Florida, in May 2007, Michael Palmer and Timothy McTigue exchanged heated words on a boating dock near Phil Foster Park. A fistfight ensued, and both men fell off the floating dock into the water. When McTigue, 43, surfaced and saw that Palmer was climbing back onto the dock, he shot him in the side of the head from a distance, killing him. Palmer was unarmed at the time, and had a blood alcohol content of 0.29, more than three times the legal drinking limit.
McTigue, a concealed handgun permit holder, was arrested and charged with second degree murder. Prosecutors argued that Palmer tried to drown McTigue, who feared for his life. A jury acquitted McTigue on May 21, 2010.