WASHINGTON DC: Police on Thursday arrested two white men for the shooting death of an unarmed black jogger in Georgia whose killing was captured in a video that went viral, sparking a massive public outcry.
Ahmaud Arbery, 25, was killed on February 23 as he ran on a sunny day in a residential neighbourhood in the town of Brunswick.
But the case gained national notoriety this week with the release of a 28-second cell phone video that captured the shooting.
“Gregory & Travis McMichael have been arrested for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery,” the Georgia Bureau of Investigation tweeted.
The two men were charged with murder and aggravated assault, according to a statement posted to the bureau’s website. They have been booked into the Glynn County jail.
In the footage, Arbery is seen running down a residential street and approaching a white pickup truck stopped in the right lane with a man standing in the back.
As Arbery tries to get around the vehicle, he is confronted by a second man holding a shotgun. An altercation between the two ensues and the firing of three shots can be heard.
The two white men were identified by police as Travis McMichael, 34, and his father Gregory McMichael, 64, who both live in Brunswick.
According to the police report, Gregory McMichael told officers he thought Arbery was a suspect in a series of area burglaries and that he had seen the young black man “hauling ass” down the street.
McMichael said he went inside and got his .357 Magnum while his son grabbed a shotgun. When they finally caught up with Arbery and Travis McMichael got out of the truck with the shotgun, Arbery began to “violently attack” him, the father said, according to the police report.
The father said he saw his son shoot Arbery and Arbery fall to the ground.
After the video footage went viral, a Georgia district attorney said Tuesday that a grand jury would be formed to see if there were grounds to charge the father and son.
Georgia’s governor, Brian Kemp, retweeted the Bureau of Investigation’s arrest announcement late Thursday and added that the “investigation remains ongoing,” while asking that residents call in with tips.
He also praised the bureau’s director and agents “for their swift action,” tweeting that “justice will be served.”
US President Donald Trump said Thursday evening he had not yet seen the video but that Arbery’s death was “a very sad thing.”
“My heart goes out to the parents and to the loved ones of the young gentleman,” Trump said, adding he would get a full report of the situation later.
Around the country, political figures, celebrities and people on social media expressed fury.
“The video is clear: Ahmaud Arbery was killed in cold blood. My heart goes out to his family, who deserve justice and deserve it now,” Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden tweeted Wednesday night.
Stacey Abrams, a former Georgia state lawmaker and potential Biden runningmate, hailed the arrest as an “important first step, but the first of many.”
“We must not look away,” she tweeted.
Before the pair’s detainment, actress Zoe Kravitz said in an Instagram post that Arbery “was murdered by two white men, ON CAMERA, and dudes have not been arrested. come on, people.” It was shared by such figures as Billie Eilish and Kylie Jenner.
Some drew parallels between this case and the shooting death of another unarmed young black man, Trayvon Martin, by a neighbourhood guard in Florida in 2012.
“We’re literally hunted EVERYDAY/EVERYTIME we step foot outside the comfort of our homes!” basketball great LeBron James said on Instagram.