Resignation of Zimmerman case police chief refused

(CBS News) SANFORD, Fla. - George Zimmerman may not be seen in public again for months.

The man accused of murdering Trayvon Martin is in hiding after being freed on bail in Sanford, Fla.

Meanwhile, authorities in Chicago and Alabama said two beatings may have been cases of revenge for the Martin shooting.

On Monday, the Sanford police chief heavily criticized for his handling of the case tried to quit, but city commissioners turned him down.

The commissioners had to decide whether to accept Bill Lee's resignation. His department became a national flashpoint when it first investigated Martin's killing but never arrested Zimmerman, the admitted gunman.

Many in Sanford agreed Lee needed to go. City Manager Norton Bonaparte even negotiated an exit package.

"The whole idea is for the community to come together," Bonaparte said. "What I proposed is one of the ways I think would move the city forward."

But Lee's supporters pressured commissioners not to scapegoat him, and they voted 3-to-2 to refuse his resignation.

Complete coverage: The shooting of Trayvon Martin

Zimmerman, who posted a $150,000 bond, has gone back into hiding. Now that he's out of jail, police won't protect him. He's responsible for his own safety.

Zimmerman's lawyer, Mark O'Mara, said his family can't afford private security, so they'll accept offers of donated protection from various supporters.

"He's out and exposed," O'Mara said on "CBS This Morning" Monday. "But I'm hopeful we can keep him safe and truly hopeful people will just let it work and let's find out what actually happened because, I think when we do, then the emotions may resolve themselves a little bit."

Across the country, the case has struck a nerve.

There have been two separate recent beating incidents, one in Chicago, another in Mobile, Ala. In both cases, the accused perpetrators are said to have claimed the Martin shooting motivated their alleged attacks, at least in part.

"We need to really think that is this the way that we want America to perceive this and America to react to it?" O'Mara asked. "Do we really want the violence level to go up between people because of this case? ... I'm very concerned about that."

To see Mark Strassmann's full report, click on the video in the player above.

  • Mark Strassmann

    Mark Strassmann was named CBS News Transportation correspondent in August 2011. He has been a CBS News correspondent since January 2001, and is based in the Atlanta bureau.

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