GLYNN COUNTY, GA — The Georgia Bureau of Investigation announced Thursday night that agents have arrested Gregory and Travis McMichael for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery.
Arbery was shot and killed on Feb. 23 in southeast Georgia when his family and friends said he was out on an afternoon jog. Cellphone video showing the moment Arbery was killed has prompted national outrage since surfacing online this week.
The GBI said it is holding a news conference at 9 a.m. Friday morning with more information on the McMichaels arrests.
We’re going through the next steps in the investigation, LIVE all morning on Channel 2 Action News. Check back for updates throughout the day.
Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son Travis McMichael, 34, have admitted to grabbing guns and pursuing Arbery as he jogged in their neighborhood, according to police records.
The GBI said the men were also charged with aggravated assault. The McMichaels were taken into custody and were booked into the Glynn County Jail.
During a news conference Thursday afternoon, Gov. Brian Kemp had strong words about the killing of Arbery.
“Earlier this week, I watched a video depicting Mr. Arbery’s last moments alive. It is absolutely horrific, and Georgians deserve answers,” Kemp said. “I have confidence in Vic Reynolds and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. I know they will work around the clock to thoroughly and independently investigate Mr. Arbery’s death to find the truth. In these moments, please pray for his loved ones, the local community, and our state."
Following the GBI’s announcement of the arrests, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr released a statement, saying, in part: “This tragedy cannot be undone, but this is the first step in what I am confident will be a swift road to justice.”
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Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones said she hasn’t been able to bring herself to watch the video.
She told Good Morning America’s Amy Robach that she’s heard about what the video showed from friends, and that was enough for her.
“He didn’t deserve to go the way he went.”
“I don’t think I’ll ever be in a mental state where I can actually watch the video,” Cooper-Jones said.
Arbery’s mother’s attorney Lee Merritt called for arrests to be made immediately.
“Prosecutors will need a grand jury in order to formally indict these men, but that has nothing to do with actually going out an arresting the men seen on camera murdering a 25-year-old unarmed black man,” Merritt said.
According to a police report, the men said they were looking for someone they suspected was breaking into homes.
“I’m out here in Satilla Shores, there’s a black male running down the street,” a caller to 911 said before the shooting.
McMichael used to work in county law enforcement with his son Travis. Travis McMichael is seen holding a shotgun and getting into the struggle with Arbery. He claims he fired in self defense.
Prosecutors said the coronavirus is hampering the efforts to indict the men.
“The prosecutors actually have the option if they so chose to, to directly indict, and skip the entire grand jurial process. It’s something that happens all the time in our legal system and this would certainly be an appropriate moment as well,” Merritt said.
Cooper-Jones said she believes there hadn’t been any arrests in the case because of McMichael’s past history in law enforcement.
“I think that no arrests have been made basically of the title that he carried, as a retired police officer. I think they don’t feel like he was wrong, because he was one of them,” Cooper-Jones said.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigations announced on Tuesday that it was opening its own probe into the incident.
Atlanta NAACP vice president Gerald Griggs says plans are in place for a massive rally and protest in Brunswick on Friday demanding justice for the Arbery family.
“Clearly there is probable cause. A magistrate needs to issue a warrant. That is why we are going to magistrate court in Glynn County and demand an arrest warrant,” Griggs told Channel 2′s Tom Regan. “My heart goes out to this family, particularly his mother, Wanda, who had the courage to push this case forward.”
Arbery would have turned 26 on Friday. His mother said she wants the world to know who he was.
“Ahmaud carried the most humble spirit. Ahmaud was kind. He was well-mannered. Ahmaud most of all was loved by his family and peers,” Cooper-Jones said.
"My kid was murdered,” Arbery’s father, Marcus Arbery, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “That’s all I can say. He ran like that every day, all his life. He ran in his neighborhood and that one too. That’s the only place he ever had a problem.”
Watch the full interview below:
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