Father and Son Arrested on Murder Charges in Death of Ahmaud Arbery

Gregory McMichael and Travis McMichael were taken into custody Thursday and booked into Glynn County Jail in Georgia.

ahmaud arbery memorial 2 men charged

BRUNSWICK, GA - MAY 06: A cross with flowers and a letter "A" sits at the entrance to the Satilla Shores neighborhood where Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed on May 6, 2020 in Brunswick, Georgia. Attorneys for Arbery released a video that appears to show the 25-year-old being gunned down while jogging during a confrontation with an armed father and son on February 23. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

ahmaud arbery memorial 2 men charged

Georgia authorities have arrested two men in the murder investigation of Ahmaud Arbery.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation tells ABC News Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son, Travis McMichael, 34, were taken into custody Thursday and were booked into the Glynn County Jail in Brunswick. The men were each charged with murder and aggravated assault in the Feb. 23 shooting of Arbery, a 25-year-old black man who was killed while jogging in the Satilla Shores neighborhood outside Brunswick.

Gregory McMichael—a former police officer—told authorities he and his son spotted Arbery running in the area and believed he was a suspected burglar. They then grabbed two firearms and followed then man in their truck, before confronting him on the road. A physical altercation ensued and Travis McMichael fatally shot Arbery at least two times. Prosecutors initially declined to charge the father and son, arguing they were acting within the scope of Georgia's citizens arrest and self-defense statutes. Arbery was unarmed.

Newly surfaced video of the shooting triggered outrage across the nation, prompting calls for the McMichaels' arrest and justice for Arbery. Shortly after the footage emerged, Atlantic Judicial Circuit District Attorney Tom Durden recommended the case be sent to a grand jury. 

"Prosecutors will need a grand jury in order to formally indict these men, but that has nothing to do with actually going out and arresting the men seen on camera murdering a 25-year-old unarmed black man," the Arbery family's attorney, Lee Merritt, told ABC News prior to the arrests. "The prosecutors actually have the option, if they so chose to, to directly indictment and skip the entire grand jury process. It's something that happens all the time in our legal system, and this would certainly be an appropriate moment."

Celebrities and atheletes such as LeBron James, Viola Davis, 2 Chainz, and Kim Kardashian have also demanded justice for Arbery by calling for an investigation into the killing. On Friday, the Players Coalition released a statement addressed to Attorney General William Barr asking for a federal investigation to be conducted. Tom Brady, Mark Ingram, Steve Kerr, Malcolm Jenkins, Julian Edelman, and more signed the letter.

The Players Coalition and other pro athletes sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr today requesting an immediate federal investigation into the death of Ahmaud Arbery. Among those signing the letter are Tom Brady, Cam Jordan, Mark Ingram and many more pic.twitter.com/nwxEpZoGz8

G.B.I. director Vic Reynolds spoke about the arrests in a news conference on Friday and called the footage of the killing "extremely upsetting."

G.B.I. Director Vic Reynolds on watching video of Ahmaud Arbery's shooting: "I think you have to remember our role is to do our best to remove our emotions from a case and look at facts. But certainly when you see that, you become pretty enraged in watching it."

"I can’t answer what another agency did or didn’t see," Reynolds said, per the New York Times. "But I can tell you that based on our involvement in this case and considering the fact we hit the ground running Wednesday morning and within 36 hours we had secured warrants for two individuals for felony murder, I think that speaks volumes for itself."

Also on Friday, Donald Trump spoke to Fox News about the case. "I saw the tape and it's very, very disturbing, the tape," Trump said, per CNN. Trump added that Arbery looked "like a really good young guy" and said the authorities will review the incident. "It's a very disturbing situation to me and my heart goes out to the parents and the family and the friends, but yet we have to take it, law enforcement is going to look at it."

Trump went on to say that Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp will "be looking at it very strongly and he's going to do what's right, but it's a heartbreaking thing and very rough, rough stuff."

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