SEATTLE - What happened to a local newspaper delivery man is both terrifying and confusing.
“None of this makes any sense to me,” Travis Zimmerman said.
Police say Zimmerman was shot 5 times in a random attack by a complete stranger on Saturday around 3 a.m.
“I have an exit wound here for some reason, but the bullet is behind my ear. My jaw is shattered, my face is shattered,” Zimmerman said.
The shooting happened while Zimmerman was delivering newspapers in Federal Way. He says it’s a route he’s worked for more than 8 years.
Bullets penetrated his face, groin and legs.
“I wasn’t threatening anybody; I don’t know him, I am not looking for any kind of a fight. I have babies, I have to fight to put their shoes on. Everything is a fight, who needs another fight, you know?” Zimmerman said.
The father of two says the stranger in a car kept blocking his vehicle.
“He came next to my car and cut me off to the side of the road,” Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman says he pulled away but the man kept following him.
“I came out and I held up the paper and said I am a paper boy stop following me,” Zimmerman said.
Seconds later he felt a bullet penetrate his face.
“He shot me trying to get away from his truck and I ran towards the back of his truck to get away he aimed behind himself and he unloaded his gun on me as I was running away,” Zimmerman said.
After days at Harborview he finally has enough strength now to hold his two young sons.
“I am going to get back to work and they still need milk,” Zimmerman said.
He’s been delivering newspapers off and on for 21 years to make a living for his family. He plans to go back to the same job once he is well enough. That could be three months though.
Despite the vicious attack, Zimmerman had a surprising message for the shooter.
“It’s a choice you have to choose to love and forgive people sooner the better. I don’t know his name, I don’t know where he is from. I do love you, I do forgive you, ok? That’s the two things I have for you,” Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman hopes to get out of Harborview in the next several days. He is hoping to keep his spirits high for his two young sons.
Daniel McLaughlin was charged with assault on Friday. Court documents reveal he admitted to having 30 or more different firearms. Prosecutors say the defendant has admitted to using heroin and/or Opiates and that McLaughlin has been treated for anxiety and depression. Prosecutors say because of his mental health issues, substance abuse and his large collection of firearms, they believe McLaughlin is likely a danger to the community.
But McLaughlin tells a different story. He told detectives that he was in the neighborhood driving around when Zimmerman started yelling at him and followed him. He said Zimmerman got out of his car and approached his vehicle trying to pull him out of his car. He says he got his pistol and fired 3 rounds. McLaughlin says when he drove off he did not know if the person was injured or not.
Police was able to arrest McLaughlin at his home after obtaining surveillance footage that captured the defendant's car.
Detectives were able to trace the license plate on the vehicle back to McLaughlin.
Shortly after McLaughlin's arrest, his father reached out to Q13 News saying his son has never used heroin but that he took oxycodone prescribed to him by a surgeon after hip surgery.
In an update to this case, a jury found McLaughlin not guilty after the defense laid out their case in court.
Court documents filed by the defense state that when Zimmerman confronted McLaughlin and tried to pull him out of the car, McLaughlin told him he had a gun.
When Zimmerman did not back down, McLaughlin fired in self defense.
The defense says at the time McLaughlin was recovering from bilateral hip surgery on both hips and was not able to move freely.
As for the the large collection of guns, the defense says McLaughlin studied to be a gunsmith and as a result he owns many firearms.