2 Georgia Men Arrested, Charged With Murder In Death of Ahmaud Arbery

Gregory and Travis McMichael have been charged with murder and aggravated assault in Georgia, which does not have hate crime laws.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has arrested two men for the death of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man who was shot in February while jogging through a neighborhood in a southeastern part of the state.

Gregory McMichael, 64, and Travis McMichael, 34, were both arrested Thursday and charged with murder and aggravated assault of Ahmaud Arbery, 25. They were then booked into a Glynn County Jail, the agency said in a statement.

“I’m very comfortable telling you there’s more than sufficient probable cause in this case for felony murder,” GBI Director Vic Reynolds said at a Friday morning press conference. 

This photo combo of images taken Thursday, May 7, 2020, and provided by the Glynn County Detention Center, in Georgia, show G
This photo combo of images taken Thursday, May 7, 2020, and provided by the Glynn County Detention Center, in Georgia, show Gregory McMichael, left, and his son Travis McMichael. The two have been charged with murder in the February shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, whom they had pursued in a truck after spotting him running in their neighborhood. (Glynn County Detention Center via AP)

The case is being investigated in conjunction with the Liberty County district attorney’s office in southeast Georgia, which has been assigned to the case over potential conflicts of interest in Glynn County.

Arbery, 25, was running through a South Georgia neighborhood about 1 p.m. on a Sunday in late February. According to police reports, the McMichaels, both white men, said they believed he looked like a suspect in a string of robberies. They reportedly grabbed their firearms, a .357 Magnum and a shotgun, pursued him in their truck, confronting him in the street.

An altercation broke out before Travis McMichael shot and killed Arbery, police said.

Graphic cellphone footage surfaced last week of the shooting, and The Guardian released audio recordings of two 911 calls that showed dispatchers responding to reports of a man, believed to be Arbery, running in the neighborhood. In one clip, a man reports a “Black male running down the street,” prompting the dispatcher to ask what the person was “doing wrong.”

The New York Times reported last month that Arbery was an avid runner who was often seen jogging around the city where he lived.

Public outcry grew after the video’s release and reports that no arrests had been made more than two months after Arbery was killed. An attorney for Arbery’s mother described the shooting as a “modern lynching in the middle of the day.” 

Although the family requested Arbery’s death be investigated as a hate crime, the state of Georgia has no hate crime statutes, Reynolds said. 

The director would not comment on the delay in the arrests, or whether there would have been any consequences for the McMichaels if the video had not surfaced and made national news. “In a perfect world,” his agency would have been involved from the beginning, Reynolds said. “But sometimes it isn’t a perfect world.” 

Shortly before the father and son were arrested, Marcus Arbery, the slain man’s father, went on “PBS NewsHour” to demand justice.

“Arrest these terrible people,” he said. “Get them out, get them off the streets, before they try to lynch anybody else’s kids. ... They need to be behind bars for a long, long time.”

Marcus Arbery’s attorney Benjamin Crump added that they were putting pressure on prosecutors to “look at the case with fresh eyes” and “not to allow anything from the local officials” in light of their connection to Gregory McMichael, who previously served as a police officer and a detective for the Glynn County district attorney for more than 30 years.

Georgia police said they were also investigating the release of the cellphone video earlier this month.

The GBI is not aware of any other videos of the murder. 

Lydia O’Connor and Sara Boboltz contributed to this report.