GLYNN CO., Ga. (AP/CNN) - 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.”
Those close to Arbery celebrated the news, but also expressed frustration at the long wait.
“This should have occurred the day it happened,” said Akeem Baker, one of Arbery’s close friends in Brunswick. “There’s no way without the video this would have occurred. I’m just glad the light’s shining very bright on this situation.”
Benjamin Crump, an attorney for the slain man’s father, Marcus Arbery, said it was “outrageous” that it took so long for arrests to be made.
In a statement posted to Facebook, the GBI said a district attorney had requested it look into the killing.
"Our goal in every investigation is to seek the truth. That's exactly what we intend on doing in this matter," said Director Vic Reynolds in a video on the agency's page.
Arbery loved to run.
"Unless it was pouring rain down outside, Ahmaud was going to be running," said Jason Vaughn, Arbery’s high school football coach.
On Feb. 23, a sunny Sunday in a coastal Georgia community, his run became a deadly chase.
According to police reports, he is seen around 1 p.m. in the Satilla Shores neighborhood where residents say there have been break-ins.
He's walking around a home under construction and then is spotted running in the road. His presence triggers calls to 911.
Dispatcher: "And you said someone is breaking into it right now?"
Caller: "No it's all open, it's under construction. And he's running right now, here he goes right now."
Dispatcher: "Ok, what is he doing?"
Caller: "He's running down the street."
According to the police report, McMichael is standing in his front yard when he sees what he thinks is the suspect in the neighborhood break ins, as he puts it, “hauling ass down the street.”
McMichael, a retired Glynn County police officer, and his son Travis grab a handgun and a shotgun, according to police documents, jump into a truck and began following Arbery.
The report describes how the father and son along with another man tried repeatedly to cut him off. Each time Arbery ran around them.
Eventually, the father and son manage to get ahead of Arbery using their truck to block his path. Travis McMichael is on the street holding a shotgun.
Video captured by an unidentified person that CNN has not been able to authenticate, allegedly depicts a fight for the shotgun. Three shots and Arbery is apparently seen dying in the street.
“I want to see these people go to jail, go to prison, whatever,” Marcus Arbery Sr. said. “They need the harshest crime they can get, because that was uncalled for. I’m telling you. That’s just hate and murder. I want to see justice for him.”
Critics contend there was no initial arrest because the man with the shotgun is the son of a former police officer from the same department initially investigating the case.
Two district attorneys recused themselves because of the father's law enforcement connections.
Before he quit, the second DA in a letter said Travis McMichael was acting in self-defense when he killed Arbery. He also said the pursuit by the two armed white men of the unarmed black man was perfectly legal under Georgia's citizen's arrest law.
Outraged, Arbery's friends and family feared his story was being overlooked in the pandemic that also kept protesters at home.
"There are a lot of people who are discouraged and believe that this is going to be one of the cases that has happened in the nation, where life was lost and justice was not rendered," said John Perry, NAACP Brunswick Chapter.
The video being seen across social media has now trumped pandemic concerns.
"The community has united. As you seen out here, there's members of all races," said Jeff Guest, a Glynn County business owner, of the protest.
Wanda Cooper, Arbery's mother, says she has not seen the video and never will.
"I don't think I'll ever reach the mental capacity to ever watch the video," Cooper said. "I saw my son come into the world and seeing (him) leave the world is not something that I'd want to see ever."
Gregory McMichael said he won’t be commenting because he is under investigation.
Friday would have been Arbery's 26th birthday. His father says there would have been a celebration, and afterward his son would have stepped out the door and run.
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.”
The outside prosecutor overseeing the case, Tom Durden, had said Monday that he wanted 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.