A school cafeteria lunch lady, 70, and her 72-year-old husband have been forced to leave their Sanford-area home because their address was widely – and wrongly – publicized on Twitter as belonging to George Zimmerman, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
The woman has a son named William George Zimmerman, but he is not related to George Zimmerman, 28, the man who shot Miami Gardens teen Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26 in a gated community in Sanford. That incident and its aftermath have generated intense interest and scrutiny, and protests around the country demanding the arrest of the neighborhood watch volunteer, who told police he killed Martin in self-defense.
He went into hiding after the shooting – and now the older couple have taken refuge in a hotel.
“I love this house but we can’t stay,” Elaine McLain told WESH Orlando, adding that she and her husband David “don’t know what’s going to happen.”
They received hate mail, visits from reporters and fearful questions from neighbors, her son William Zimmerman of Central Florida told the Sentinel.
"This is really scary, and I'm concerned for my family," he said Tuesday night. "It's scary because there are people who aren't mentally right and will take this information and run with it."
He said he was not sure how the address of his mother and stepfather became public, though he used it for his driver’s license and other tasks when he lived there after college.
The Sentinel reported Wednesday that the McClains have hired a law firm to represent them.
Zimmerman said the tweets came from a California man, and that he pleaded with the man to stop, but the man responded with “Black power all day. No justice, no peace” and an obscenity, the newspaper reported.
The address was retweeted by film director Spike Lee, and though that tweet has been removed, people continue to retweet it Wednesday. “Spike Lee retweeted the wrong address of George Zimmerman that forced some old couple to leave the house cause of harassment. #ignorance,” wrote one man.
In addition to supporting the protests for Martin, Lee has been retweeting inflammatory messages sent to him.
He explained on his account, “People, The Thinking Behind Me Retweeting These Insane Racist Rants Is Because This Sickness Must Be Exposed. USA Post Racial Society?????????”
Lee apologized to the McClains for retweeting their address Wednesday night.
"It Was A Mistake. Please Leave The McClains In Peace," he wrote. "Justice In Court."