Investigators who arrested a father and son in connection with the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery say 'probable cause was clear to our agents pretty quickly'

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Investigators who arrested a father and son in connection with the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery say 'probable cause was clear to our agents pretty quickly'
Gregory McMichael, left, and his son Travis McMichael have been charged with murder in the February shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery.Glynn County Detention Center via AP
  • Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son, Travis McMichael, 34, were arrested Thursday in connection with the shooting of death of Ahmaud Arbery.
  • The 25-year-old black man was out running in Brunswick, Georgia, when the pair of white men allegedly mistook him for a suspect in a series of break-ins, a police report says.
  • They grabbed two firearms and chased him. Arbery died of his gunshot wounds at the end of the altercation, police said.
  • "The probable cause was clear to our agents pretty quickly," Vic Reynolds, director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, said at a news conference on Friday.
  • The pair faces charges of felony murder and aggravated assault, Reynolds said.
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Agents with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation found enough probable cause to arrest two white men in the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old black man, within 36 hours of being handed the case.

"The probable cause was clear to our agents pretty quickly," the agency's director Vic Reynolds said at a news conference on Friday.

Arbery was out jogging in the neighborhood around 1 p.m. on February 23 in the Satilla Shores neighborhood of Brunswick, Georgia, when he was pursued by Gregory McMichael, 64, and Travis McMichael, 34. They were armed and Arbery was killed by the younger McMichael, according to investigators.

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The agency announced that the pair face charges of felony murder and aggravated assault. They were taken into custody on Thursday evening and booked into the Glynn County Jail.

"There's sufficient probable cause to charge the McMichaels with felony murder and aggravated assault," Reynolds said. "I can tell you that if we didn't believe it, we wouldn't have arrested them. If we believe it, then we're going to put the bracelets on them and that's exactly what we did yesterday evening."

The case is being investigated by District Attorney Tom Durden, a prosecutor in a neighboring county. In the two months since Arbery died, two district attorneys have recused themselves over potential conflicts of interest, Reuters reported.

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Arbery was unarmed during the incident, which was captured on video by a witness in a nearby car and was shared on social media. The footage has prompted uproar across the country, with politicians, athletes, and celebrities, decrying Arbery's death and seeking justice. The Bureau of Investigation is also looking into the video being leaked and the person who filmed the footage.

A Glynn County police report said that the McMichaels decided to grab a shotgun and a .357 Magnum and follow Arbery because he looked like a suspect in a series of break-ins in the area.

However, the Brunswick News reported that only one burglary was reported in the area between January 1, 2020, and the day Arbery died. The item stolen was a gun from Travis McMichael's unlocked pickup truck.

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"You look on that video, and it's like it was a hunting party," Ben Crump, one of the attorneys representing Ahmaud's father, Marcus Arbery, Sr., told Insider.

Gregory McMichael worked as an investigator for the Glynn County District Attorney's office until May 2019, when he retired. Before that, he also worked as a police officer. These ties to local law enforcement and the absence of an arrest since February hint at "impropriety," Crump said.

"When we believe if this was any other citizen, especially a citizen of color, they would have been arrested because you have an unarmed man in a jogging attack," Crump said. "He doesn't have any burglary outfit or burglary tools or anything like that. I mean, he's jogging and this guy kills them, and they just take his word for it."

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For his part, Arbery's father, Marcus Arbery, Sr., has characterized the shooting as a "hate crime."

"My young son wasn't doing nothing — minding his own business, running and working out. And that's a crime?" he asked First Coast News.

Reynolds pointed out that Georgia doesn't have a hate crime statute.

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But, he said, "Every stone will be turned over, I promise you."

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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