SAVANNAH—Gregory and Travis McMichael have been arrested and charged with murder and aggravated assault in connection with the February killing of Ahmaud Arbery, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation announced Thursday.
According to police, the white father and son, 64 and 34, chased Arbery, a 25-year-old black man, after he ran by Travis McMichael’s home in the Satilla Shores neighborhood of Brunswick on Feb. 23. He was unarmed and jogging at the time.
“This is a start towards victory,” Thea Brooks, Arbery’s aunt, told The Daily Beast on Thursday. “This only the beginning though, but this is what we were all hoping for.”
The McMichaels said they believed Arbery was a burglar responsible for a series of break-ins in their neighborhood and that they pursued him in their pickup truck while armed with a shotgun and a .357 magnum. The GBI alleges the McMichaels confronted Arbery, and that Travis shot him.
A local prosecutor previously indicated a third man, William Bryan, took part in the chase and filmed the incident.
At least two shots hit the 25-year-old, the Glynn County Coroner’s Office told The Daily Beast last week.
Video that Brooks said depicted her nephew’s death elicited a furious reaction nationwide, and residents of the area protested the initial failure to prosecute a case on Tuesday.
“It’s murder. It’s heartbreaking to even look at. The whole city has seen it,” Brooks told The Daily Beast after the video was released this week.
The Georgia NAACP echoed her words in a Thursday response to the McMichaels’ arrest: “The murderers of Ahmaud Arbery have been arrested.”
Gregory McMichael, a former cop and investigator with a local prosecutor’s office, previously told The Daily Beast he “never would have gone after someone for their color.” He also said the “closest version of the truth” about the incident was captured in a letter effectively clearing him and his son that was written by a prosecutor who recused himself from the case, George Barnhill.
McMichael also admitted he had no direct evidence that Arbery was a thief. “But he’s the guy who’s there without permission,” he said from behind the closed front door of his son’s home.
The owner of an unfinished home just down the street from Travis McMichael's home, Larry English, told The Daily Beast earlier this week that he had surveillance footage that appeared to show Arbery stopping to look at the foundation of his still-under-construction home.
While Gregory McMichael claimed to police that Arbery had been caught on surveillance video, it was not immediately clear what video he was referring to. English told The Daily Beast he had no knowledge of the McMichaels seeing his surveillance footage.
McMichael’s ties to law enforcement helped fuel a haze of suspicion around the killing from the beginning. Barnhill was one of two area prosecutors who looked into the incident before recusing themselves. A third prosecutor—District Attorney Tom Durden—sought a GBI probe ahead of the arrests this week.
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