Demands mounted Thursday for arrests in the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, as accusations of racial bias and descriptions of his killing as a "lynching" flooded social media. Arbery, a 25-year-old black man, was fatally shot after being pursued by two white men in February.
But no one has been charged or arrested in the ongoing investigation. Cellphone video surfaced this week in which Arbery is seen running on a tree-lined Georgia street and encountering two armed men. The short video immediately went viral.
Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley took to Twitter, demanding justice. “I’ve struggled for words to describe the pain my husband & I feel reading about the lynching of #AhmaudArbery,” tweeted Pressley, who is the first black woman elected to represent the state in Congress. “Black while walking. Black while eating. Black while jogging ... we need justice for his family now.”
Sports star LeBron James also joined a chorus of public figures expressing outrage over the shooting. "We're literally hunted EVERYDAY/EVERYTIME we step foot outside the comfort of our homes! Can't even go for a damn jog man! Like WTF man are you kidding me?!?!?!?!?!? No man fr ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!!! I'm sorry Ahmaud (Rest In Paradise) and my prayers and blessings sent to the... heavens above to your family," James tweeted Wednesday.
Ahmaud's family called for immediate arrests in the case. Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper Jones, told reporters Wednesday her son “was just out for his daily jog” in a neighborhood outside the port city of Brunswick. She said she can't bring herself to watch the video.
“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.”
“These men were vigilantes, they were a posse and they performed a modern lynching in the middle of the day,” said Lee Merritt, an attorney for Arbery’s mother.
Former Vice President Joe Biden and former Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams called for immediate investigations into Arbery's death. Biden said in a Twitter post the runner had been "killed in cold blood."
According to an incident report filed by Glynn County police, Arbery was shot after two men spotted him running in their neighborhood. Gregory McMichael, 64, told police that he and his adult son, Travis, 34, thought the runner matched the description of someone caught on a security camera committing recent break-ins in the area.
They armed themselves with guns before getting in a truck to pursue him, according to the report. The elder McMichael said the jogger "violently" attacked his son, and the two fought over Travis' shotgun, the report said. Neither man has commented to news media about the shooting.
The video was allegedly shot by a friend of Greg and Travis McMichael who had helped the father and son chase Arbery, according to a report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Thursday.
William Roddy Bryan, 50, is identified in police documents as the person behind the video. He is also referenced by Greg McMichael in the police report of the Feb. 23 shooting.
Gregory McMichael was a longtime investigator for the local prosecutor's office. Two district attorneys recused themselves from the case, citing conflicts of interest because they had worked with him. Atlantic Judicial Circuit District Attorney Tom Durden, the case's third prosecutor said Tuesday he'd submit the evidence to a grand jury once the state's coronavirus restrictions were lifted. That won't happen until at least late June, officials said.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation joined the investigation Wednesday after Durden requested the agency’s help. Director Vic Reynolds said he assigned three agents to the case.
“I realize that emotions are running high in this community and they’re running high throughout this state,” Reynolds said in statement. “And the last thing anyone wants to do is extend us any patience. But I also realize that this investigation must be done correctly.”