The Associated Press is reporting that an arrest has been made in the chilling murder of 25-year-old Brunswick jogger Ahmaud Arbery.
A white father and son accused of fatally shooting a black man on a residential Georgia street were taken into custody Thursday and charged with murder and aggravated assault after a national outcry that no arrests had been made, authorities said.
Gregory McMichael, 64, and Travis McMichael, 34, will be booked into the Glynn County Jail, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said in a news release.
The murder sparked outrage with Mr. Arbery’s family comparing it to a lynching. According to a report by the UK Mail:
Ahmaud Arbery, 25, was killed February 23 after he became embroiled in an altercation with Gregory and Trevor McMichael while out jogging in the city of Brunswick.
The McMichaels – who are father and son – allegedly followed Abery in their pick-up truck, believing that he was a suspect in two recent burglaries that occurred in the area.
On April 25, The Brunswick News reported:
…retired Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney investigator Gregory McMichael and his adult son, Travis McMichael, armed themselves and pursued Arbery down Satilla Drive in a pickup truck, according to a Glynn County police report. A block away at Satilla Drive and Buford Road, Travis McMichael stepped out of the truck with a shotgun and confronted Arbery, 25, the report said. Travis McMichael fired the gun twice during the ensuing struggle; Arbery died on the spot.
Two months later, there is no resolution to the case, which now sits with Hinesville District Attorney Tom Durden. The case originally was assigned by the state Attorney General to Ware County DA George E. Barnhill. Brunswick DA Jackie Johnson had cited a conflict of interest, noting McMichael’s more than 20 years as an investigator with her office. McMichael served seven years prior to that as a Glynn County police officer.
Shooting an Unarmed Man? Mr. Arbery was believed to be unarmed when he was shot down. The family’s attorney Lee Merritt released a video of the shooting on 5 May, leading to a public outcry. During a press conference Attorney Merritt stated ‘These men were not performing any police function or any duty as citizens of Georgia.., these men were vigilantes, they were performing a lynching in the middle of the day.”
Possible Motive? There were immediate questions as to what caused the shooting. A news report indicate two calls were made to 911. According to The Brunswick News
Both callers to 911 that day reported seeing Arbery running. The identities of the callers were redacted from the transcript of the 911 call provided to The News.
Arbery had been seen recently on surveillance video in the neighborhood, according to the first caller. Neither call specifies a crime Arbery might have committed.
The Brunswick News story provided further information on statements made after the shooting:
After the fatal shooting, Gregory McMichael told responding police that “there have been several break-ins in the neighborhood … “ the police report said.
Only one burglary, an automobile burglary, was reported to county police in the Satilla Shores neighborhood between Jan. 1 and Feb. 23, according to documents obtained by The News in a public records request to the Glynn County Police Department. It involved a Smith & Wesson M&P 9 mm pistol stolen Jan. 1 from a pickup truck outside 230 Satilla Drive, the home of Travis McMichael, according to the police report.
One of the biggest questions was why no arrests were made. With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic shutting down court systems, grand juries are apparently not being convened in Georgia. According to an Associated Press
The outside prosecutor overseeing the case, Tom Durden, had said Monday that he wanted a grand jury to decide whether charges are warranted. With Georgia courts still largely closed because of the coronavirus, the soonest that could happen is mid-June.
Nonetheless, government officials and civic leaders question why the video took so long to be released to the public. MSN.com is reporting that:
Stacey Abrams, who ran as the Democratic candidate for Georgia governor in 2018, wrote, “As more attention focuses on the troubling killing of #AhmaudArbery, our systems of law enforcement and justice must be held to the highest standards: full investigation, appropriate charges and an unbiased prosecution.”
Democratic state lawmakers questioned why the video was surfacing three months after the shooting. The video sparked unrest Tuesday, leading about 100 people to join a protest in the streets of the neighborhood where Arbery was shot. As the crowd marched toward the McMichaels’ home, they carried signs and chanted.
Mr. Arbery’s mother Wanda Jones talked of her love for her son:
I saw my son come into the world,’ Jones said. ‘And seeing him leave the world, it’s not something that I’ll want to see ever.’
She added: ‘He was my baby boy that I had on Mother’s Day of 1994. He was his sister and brother’s keeper… his spirit was good. He was a yes ma’am and no ma’am type of fellow.’