SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — A white father and son accused of fatally shooting a black man on a residential Georgia street were arrested 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.
Ahmaud Arbery was killed Feb. 23 just outside the port city of Brunswick. The men who pursued him in a pickup truck told police they believed Arbery was a burglar.
The GBI opened an investigation this week after the video was posted online by a Brunswick radio station. Republican Gov. Brian Kemp told reporters that he’s confident the agency will “find the truth.”
Kemp on Thursday described as “absolutely horrific” a cellphone video that appears to show a white father and son fatally shooting a black man on a residential street as the national outcry over the slaying escalated.
Arbery was killed Feb. 23 just outside the port city of Brunswick. The men who pursued him in a pickup truck told police they believed Arbery was a burglar.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation opened an investigation this week after the video was posted online by a Brunswick radio station. Republican Gov. Brian Kemp told reporters that he’s confident the agency will “find the truth.”
“Earlier this week, I watched the video depicting Mr. Arbery’s last moments alive,” Kemp told a news conference in Atlanta. “I can tell you it’s absolutely horrific, and Georgians deserve answers.”
Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper Jones, has said she believes her son, a former football player, was just jogging in the Satilla Shores neighborhood before he was killed on a Sunday afternoon.
Gregory McMichael told police he suspected the runner was the same man filmed by a security camera committing a break-in. He and his grown son, Travis McMichael, grabbed guns and began a pursuit in the truck.
The video shows a black man running at a jogging pace on the left side of a road. A truck is parked in the road ahead of him. One of the white men is inside the pickup’s bed. The other is standing beside the open driver’s side door.
The runner crosses the road to pass the pickup on the passenger side, then crosses back in front of the truck. A gunshot sounds, and the video shows the runner grappling with a man in the street over what appears to be a shotgun or rifle. A second shot can be heard, and the runner can be seen punching the man. A third shot is fired at point-blank range. The runner staggers a few feet and falls face down.
Brunswick defense attorney Alan Tucker identified himself Thursday as the person who shared the video with the radio station. In a statement, Tucker said he does not currently represent anyone involved in the case. He said he released the video “because my community was being ripped apart by erroneous accusations and assumptions.”
Tucker did not say how he obtained the video. He did not immediately respond to a phone message or an email.
A phone number listed for Gregory McMichael has been disconnected. The Associated Press could not find a phone listing for Travis McMichael.
The outcry over the killing reached the White House, where President Donald Trump offered condolences Thursday to Arbery’s family.
“It’s a very sad thing,” Trump said in the Oval Office, “but I will be given a full report this evening.”
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has called Arbery’s death a “murder.” During an online roundtable Thursday, Biden compared the video to seeing Arbery “lynched before our very eyes.”
Glynn County District Attorney Jackie Johnson recused herself from the case because Gregory McMichael worked as an investigator in her office. He retired last year.
The shooting is now in the hands of an outside prosecutor, Tom Durden, who said Monday that he wants 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.