Two men have been arrested and charged with murder in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man whose family said he was jogging on the day he was killed, officials from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation announced Thursday night. The shooting of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery, which took place February 23, ignited racial tensions across Georgia.
Arbery was confronted by Gregory McMichael and his son, Travis, who shot Arbery before he collapsed and died, according to the bureau.
Gregory, 64, and Travis, 34, were both charged with murder and aggravated assault. The men were taken into custody and will be booked into the Glynn County Jail, the bureau said.
The decision comes days after cellphone video emerged that captured the final moments of Arbery’s life while he was jogging through the Brunswick neighborhood in February.
According to the only witness in the police report, McMichael told investigators he thought Arbery was a burglary suspect and ordered him to stop. McMichael said Arbery “violently” attacked his son, and the two fought “over the shotgun” before Travis shot him twice. At the time, no charges were filed.
McMichael is a former law enforcement officer who used to work for the local district attorney. Due to conflicts of interest, the case is now on its third prosecutor, who said he will ask a grand jury to bring charges.
Arbery’s mother, Wanda Jones, said the cellphone footage of the incident proves her son was not committing a crime. “He was out for his daily jog and he was hunted down like an animal and killed,” Jones said. “I’m hoping that all involved, they’re indicted and they go to jail.”
Arbery’s death sparked condemnation across the country. “We’re literally hunted EVERYDAY/EVERYTIME we step foot outside the comfort of our homes!” LeBron James tweeted Wednesday. “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.”
Former Georgia Congresswoman Stacey Abrams weighed in on the arrests on Twitter, writing Thursday, “Important first step, but the first of many. The @Georgia_NAACP lifted up #AhmaudArbery and his family’s struggle for action to help them draw attention to this heinous crime. We must not look away.”