Two arrests have been made in the killing of black jogger Ahmaud Arbery, whose February shooting death sparked national outrage after graphic video of the slaying surfaced this week and prompted national outcry.
The arrests of Gregory and Travis McMichael, who are white, were made late Thursday by investigators from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, according to a statement from the agency. The state bureau was asked to step in late Tuesday by Tom Durden of the Atlantic Judicial Circuit, the third prosecutor in the ongoing case.
It took less than 48 hours for the state agency to file murder charges after the investigation sat with local authorities for more than 10 weeks.
Durden said this earlier this week he would present the evidence to a grand jury, once the coronavirus pandemic restrictions against them were lifted.
Two previous district attorneys in the case recused themselves in the Feb.23 shooting death of the 25-year-old Brunswick resident who was out for a run on a Sunday afternoon. The local prosecutors cited conflicts of interest because Gregory McMichael, a former police officer, had been a longtime investigator in the prosecutor's office until he retired last year.
Demands mounted earlier Thursday for arrests to be made in the shooting death of Arbery, as accusations of racial bias and descriptions of his killing as a "lynching" flooded social media from politicians, his family and celebrities.
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. Arbery was black, while the McMichaels are white.
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 before Travis shot Arbery twice, the report said. Neither man has commented to news media about the shooting.
The McMichaels were arrested on charges of murder and aggravated assault, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
A news conference has been scheduled by the state agency for Friday at 9 a.m. EDT.