Lowery Reaches Zimmerman Via Email

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It took a former Shakerite editor to contact the most sought-after man in America.

It seems everyone was talking about George Zimmerman, but no one was talking to him until Ohio University senior Wesley Lowery (’08) exchanged email messages with Trayvon Martin’s shooter April 9. Lowery, a former Shakerite editor in chief, is now chief editor of The Post at OU and reporter for Loop 21, a news website focused on African-American issues. After reaching Zimmerman, he appeared on CNN, offering commentary as video of the prison housing Zimmerman rolled.

Zimmerman is charged with second degree murder in the Feb. 26 shooting of Martin in Sanford, Florida. Martin was walking home from a nearby convenience store with iced tea and a bag of candy and his hood up. Martin was unarmed. Zimmerman, a self-appointed neighborhood watch leader, was suspicious of Martin and began following him. According to taped phone calls with the police, Zimmerman said Martin looked like he was up to no good. “We’ve had some break-ins my neighborhood . . . There is a really suspicious guy,” Zimmerman said. The police dispatcher told Zimmerman not to pursue Martin. Zimmerman later told police Martin attacked him and Zimmerman shot him in self-defense.

Lowery saw that Zimmerman had launched a website, therealgeorgezimmerman.com, to raise money for his defense and started to track the website through registry.com. He found that the website was launched through GoDaddy.com, a popular domain, and located a third-party contact email. “I knew there was a chance [that Zimmerman would respond] so as a journalist, it’s my job,” Lowery said.

On April 9, Lowery sent an email inquiry to that third party. Within 20 minutes Lowery received a response, and the respondent identified himself as Zimmerman.

Zimmerman responded with, “You are correct, www.therealgeorgezimmerman.com is run by me, George Zimmerman.” And later Zimmerman wrote, “Mr. Lowery, You are corresponding with me via Email. Sincerely, George Zimmerman.”

 “I was shocked that I got a response at all,” Lowery said. “It was instinct and curiosity.” After a couple exchanges in which he asked for verification of Zimmerman’s identity, Lowery furthered his inquiry. “He stopped responding, especially when I started asking substantial questions,” Lowery said.

NBC and MSNBC reported that the Zimmerman legal team confirmed the authenticity of the website and that Zimmerman himself was indeed running the site.

After contacting Zimmerman, Lowery wrote a blog post on Loop 21. He received emails and phone calls commending his effort. He appeared on the Jane Velez Mitchell show on Headline News the following day.

Lowery, who has interned at the Wall Street Journal and Columbus Dispatch, said that his success shows the power of young journalists. Said Lowery, “You can be a college student and still get a hold of the most sought-after interview.”

To view Lowery’s interview on CNN April 11, click here ; Lowery Interview Regarding Zimmerman Emails

A version of this article appeared in print on 24 April 2012, on page 4 of The Shakerite

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