By Benjamin Mueller
9:37 PM EDT, July 18, 2013
George Zimmerman won't be rearming just yet.
The Sanford Police Department froze its plan to return Zimmerman's gun Thursday after the FBI put a hold on evidence in the case, Sanford police spokesman Capt. James McAuliffe told the Los Angeles Times.
The FBI's request signals that the Justice Department is proceeding with its civil rights investigation into Zimmerman's killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
McAuliffe said the gun, a 9-millimeter semiautomatic, won't be returned until the department completes its investigation and had no further need for evidence in the case.
Zimmerman's acquittal Saturday unleashed protests across the country, including appeals to the Justice Department to vigorously pursue civil rights charges against Zimmerman.
Zimmerman told police he shot Martin in self-defense after Martin punched him in the nose and pounded his head against the sidewalk.
His lawyer, Mark O'Mara, said Sunday that Zimmerman hoped to retrieve the gun because he needed it now "even more" than he once did. "There are a lot of people out there who actually hate him, though they shouldn't," O'Mara told ABC News.
Martin supporters were disturbed by the idea that police would return to Zimmerman the same gun he used to kill Martin.
But two days after police received the evidence in the case from the Seminole County Clerk of Courts - including the gun, Martin's clothes and the Skittles and iced tea Martin was carrying when the fatal altercation began - that plan is now on hold.
McAuliffe said the gun was locked up in a "very secure" spot within the police department.
"It wouldn't be in my desk drawer," he said.
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