BRUNSWICK, Ga. (WSAV) – Less than two days after being called to investigate the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) arrested two men believed to be responsible.
Gregory McMichael, 64, and his 34-year-old son Travis were taken into custody on Thursday in Glynn County.
Both are being held on charges of felony murder and aggravated assault. A Superior Court judge will have to decide whether to grant them bond.
“The arrests really took a burden off of the family so everybody right now is really at a better place than we were when we started off,” Thea Brooks, Arbery’s aunt, said Friday.
The felony murder charges mean that a victim was killed during the commission of an underlying felony, in this case, aggravated assault. The charge doesn’t require intent to kill.
It’s been well over two months since Arbery died in the Satilla Shores neighborhood in Brunswick.
Gregory McMichael, who spent time in local law enforcement, and his son told police they believed Arbery matched the description of a suspect involved in recent burglaries in the area. The men got in their truck with two firearms in hand and apparently chased Arbery down to speak with him.
Officials say during the encounter, Travis McMichael got out of the vehicle and fatally shot the 25-year-old.
But a video that surfaced just this week appears to show that moment Arbery was shot, sparking not only local protests but calls for justice from across the nation.
“It’s amazing,” Brooks said. “This is Brunswick, this is a small city, so for something like this to make national headlines and for people to support us — it means a lot.”
Watch Friday’s full press conference with GBI Director Vic Reynolds and District Attorney Tom Durden below.
According to the GBI, the Glynn County Police Department conducted an investigation at the time of the Feb. 23 incident. No arrests were made then.
The state agency was only recently requested to investigate on April 29 by the department in Glynn County, followed by District Attorney Tom Durden Durden on Tuesday.
GBI Director Vic Reynolds said since then, his agency has been able to review the evidence gathered, including the explosive video showing the incident.
“And when we applied the law to the facts in this case, it came up pretty quickly with a solid belief that there’s sufficient probable cause to charge the McMichaels with felony murder and aggravated assault,” the director explained. “If we believe it then we’re gonna put the bracelets on them — and that’s exactly what we did yesterday evening.”
The GBI is also investigating the person who shot the video, Renolds confirmed.
William Bryan, said to be a neighbor to the McMichaels, was the one filming. News outlets report an attorney ultimately released the video online.
President Donald Trump appeared on Fox News Channel Friday and said he had seen the “very, very disturbing” video.
“It’s a heartbreaking thing…very rough, rough stuff,” Trump said. “Justice getting done is what solves that problem. It’s in the hands of the governor and I’m sure he’ll do the right thing.”
Gov. Brian Kemp on Twitter praised the GBI for “their swift action.”
“Justice will be served,” he added.
“We are grateful the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has taken quick and decisive action,” stated Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr Thursday. “This tragedy cannot be undone but this is the first step in what I am confident will be a swift road to justice.”
First District Congressman Buddy Carter released a response to the arrests, saying in part, “The community is rightfully shaken and on edge and the video footage and what’s been reported is deeply troubling.”
Carter also said he’s extremely concerned by the alleged improprieties in the process and glad that veteran investigators with the GBI have been assigned to the case.
Reynolds said his agency is dedicated to the case and will conduct a fair investigation.
“It doesn’t matter who the victim is, it doesn’t matter who the potential defendants are,” he said. “All that matters is what the facts tell us.”
The agency asks anyone with pertinent information to the case “other than the video” to contact the GBI at 1-800-597-TIPS (8477) or online here.
This article was originally published on May 7. Contributions made by First Coast News, Associated Press and Lewis Levine of Coastal News Service.