What led up to the alleged murder of Georgia man Ahmaud Arbery on February 23? Audio has been released of a previously reported 911 call in which Travis McMichael, the suspect charged with killing him, told authorities about a black man running into the same house at the center of the case.
“I was leaving the neighborhood and I just caught a guy running into a house being built,” he said in audio obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “When I turned around, he took off running into the house.”
McMichael, 34, is charged along with his father Gregory McMichael, 64, with murder and aggravated assault. They were not immediately arrested for the February 23 incident. The elder defendant allegedly told police they believed the victim was a suspect in a series of recent burglaries and confronted him while they were armed in their white pickup truck. The first prosecutor in charge of the case, Brunswick District Attorney Jackie Johnson, recused because Gregory McMichael was an investigator in her office. The second prosecutor to look into the matter, Waycross County District Attorney George E. Barnhill, also stepped down because his son was working for the first prosecutor’s office, but not before arguing that the McMichaels’ actions were legal under the state citizen’s arrest law.
But footage leaked in early May which many now believe shows that the defendants instigated the confrontation. Arrests followed shortly thereafter. The defendants have been denied bond. They’ve previously declined to comment about the shooting.
Shortly before the shooting, a man believed to be Arbery was recorded on surveillance footage on February 23 at a home that was under construction. The homeowner, who lived 90 miles away, said that the property has never been robbed. That residence was the subject of the 911 call on February 11.
In the February call, Travis McMichael told the dispatcher that a string of burglaries occurred in the area.
“When I turned around and saw him and backed up, he reached into his pocket and ran into the house,” he said. “So I don’t know if he’s armed or not. But he looked like he was acting like he was.”
Local man Diego Perez previously told the Journal-Constitution he was watching the residence on behalf of its owner, Larry English, and that he ran into McMichael while checking on the home. Perez said they at first didn’t know the man who had been showing up on their surveillance cameras. Perez said, however, that he was present for the aftermath of the February 23 shooting. It was then, Perez said, that he recognized Arbery as the man who had been seen previously at the construction site.
[Featured image via screen capture from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution/YouTube]
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