A customer of Bellevue-based T-Mobile drew the shortest straw ever when it came to new cell phone numbers.
Junior Alexander Guy got the phone number of George Zimmerman, the Florida man charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin.
It was bad luck because Guy not only got Zimmerman's number, he started getting Zimmerman's messages -- including death threats, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
The Zimmerman case has sparked national outrage. Zimmerman says his shooting of 17-year-old Martin during a self-appointed "neighborhood watch" of his condominium complex was self-defense under Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law. Martin was walking back to the condo of his father and his father's girlfriend, but Zimmerman began following the teenager, including calling 9-1-1 because Martin looked "suspicious" to him, and then fatally shot him at close range as they fought.
Zimmerman's old phone number, 407-435-2400, become public knowledge after the 9-1-1 tapes were released. The incident sparked national outrage after the Sanford police did not arrest Zimmerman immediately.
Guy, 49, says after he got his new cell phone with that number, he immediately started getting threats aimed at Zimmerman, which so frightened Guy that he moved himself and his mother out of their home, and he turned his phone over to his lawyer.
T-Mobile said in a statement that much of the inconvenience could have been avoided if Guy had contacted the company immediately. The company added that the number has been retired, and that the company has canceled Guy's account and refunded his money:
While we regret the inconvenience to Mr. Guy, this could have been addressed immediately had he contacted T-Mobile, as we repeatedly asked Mr. Guy’s lawyer to advise his client to do. T-Mobile has now canceled the line, credited Mr. Guy’s account for his charges, waived his early termination fee, and taken the phone number out of circulation so it will not be used again.
T-Mobile and other carriers regularly provide previously used phone numbers to customers and that is what happened when Mr. Guy activated his new account in May. In this case, the primary account holder who was previously assigned this phone number was not, in fact, Mr. Zimmerman. Additionally, this phone number had been held out of circulation for 60 days when it was reassigned to Mr. Guy.