A Georgia resident who called the cops on a man believed to be Ahmaud Arbery right before he was killed spoke with DailyMail.com about why he reported a man “milling about” inside an empty house, and his statements further confirm suspicions that Arbery was racially profiled.
The unnamed eyewitness allegedly saw a man entering a family home currently under construction in the Satilla Shores neighborhood in Brunswick, Georgia. He decided to call the cops via a non-emergency phone number because the unidentified “intruder” had “no business” trespassing on the unfurnished property on Feb. 23 around 1 p.m.
When further asked why he was suspicious of the man entering the property, the caller told DailyMail.com, “He wasn’t out for a jog, put it like that. You don’t go jogging wearing saggy pants, saggy shorts.”
Arbery, who would have turned 26 last Friday, was wearing a white T-shirt and knee-length shorts the day he was fatally shot on Feb. 23. This wardrobe is pretty consistent with anyone who would go jogging and doesn’t warrant profiling and ultimately killing someone. It’s still not even confirmed if Arbery, who was caught on video getting shot, is the same man caught on surveillance videos entering a house under construction the same day Arbery was killed.
Gregory and Travis McMichael were arrested for the fatal shooting of Arbery last week, nearly three months after they followed Arbery in their truck with guns, believing he was a neighborhood burglar. Graphic footage of the incident was released last week showing Arbery struggling with Travis and his shotgun as three shots can be heard going off. By the end of the video, Arbery falls to the ground fatally injured. The clip sparked national outrage, which eventually led to the McMichael’s being arrested and charged with murder by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI).
The resident interviewed by DailyMail.com lives 350 yards away from the construction site where he says the man believed to be Arbery entered. Speaking on anonymity out of fears of reprisal, the resident continued, “I saw the fella earlier before it happened and I called the police probably about 10 minutes before it happened. I didn’t call 911, I called the non-emergency number. I saw him running but he wasn’t running through the neighborhood.”
“The fella entered a home under construction that he really had no business in. He was inside a house, it’s on my neighbor’s security camera,” the resident continued. The home under construction is described as a vacant lot in recent listings and the current owner, Larry English Jr., bought it back in June 2016 for $120,000. He built a large portion of the structure, according to DailyMail.com, and he had a sign posted outside, reading, “Trespassers will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
English said he was working three hours away from the site when a cell phone alert notified him that something had triggered a remote security camera inside the property. He assumed it was a dog or cat so he didn’t check his phone for about 15 minutes. By the time he looked at the footage showing the unidentified male and asked a friend in Satilla Drive what was happening, the shooting had already occurred.
“The English family had no relationship with the McMichaels and did not even know what had occurred until after Mr. Arbery’s death was reported to them,” an attorney representing him said. “Mr. English would never have sought a vigilante response, much less one resulting in a tragic death.”
Two different videos surfaced over the weekend capturing a man believed to be Arbery entering English’s partially-built house. One was captured by English’s camera and the other was recorded from a neighboring property. More videos from that same house surfaced this week showing what appears to be the same man roaming around. Only, these videos stretch back to October 2019.
Despite no concrete confirmation proving Arbery is the man in these surveillance videos, Arbery’s family seems to think it might be Arbery in the first set of videos released over the weekend. They say that the clips serve as proof that Ahmaud wasn’t stealing anything but he was only looking around, which they say is not a crime. “Ahmaud Arbery did not take anything from the construction site. He did not cause any damage to the property,” their attorney, S. Lee Merritt, explained.
The resident who called the cops also confirmed that Arbery was able to walk in without breaking and entering. “It’s all dried in but there’s no garage doors. It’s under construction,” he said. “He walked down to the scene, he milled about in the front yard, he went into the house, that’s when I walked up and saw, I was across the street, behind an oak tree. I called the police, he saw me and he ran away.”
The resident said Arbery jogged right past the home of Gregory and Travis McMichael, which is five doors down, however, the resident doesn’t remember seeing the father and son. He denies tipping them off or insisting someone chase down Arbery.
The resident’s timeline coincides with a recording of a 1:08 non-emergency call released by the Brunswick Police Department last week where the caller says, “There’s a guy in the house right now, a house under construction.” The DailyMail.com confirms that it’s the same voice as the man they talked to.
The resident claims there have been a series of thefts in Satilla Shores as of late, that included pistols and rifles stolen from people’s vehicles. However, cops said that they only recorded one burglary in the area since January and there are no records that support claims of firearms being stolen from vehicles.
Meanwhile, the resident is arguing that he saw the man believed to be Arbery “running down the street and I know someone matching his description had been entering vehicles and been on people’s docks.” Yet, the resident had no evidence linking Arbery to the thefts or any other crimes. Even the police said they don’t have records of firearms being stolen from vehicles. When asked if the McMichael’s were right to chase down Arbery, the resident said, “I don’t know enough, I can’t say.”
In the aftermath of the shooting, the McMichaels also said Arbery resembled a guy accused of an alleged series of residential break-ins. But again, to date, there is no evidence that suggests Arbery ever committed a crime in the predominantly white Satilla Shores during or before the day of the shooting.
There were only neighbors of the McMichael’s that echoed claims that there were burglaries in the neighborhood. “There have been a lot of thefts, mainly from cars so they have gone unreported because people don’t want to hurt their insurance premiums,” one neighbor told DailyMail.com. He went on to say that despite talk of break-in’s, no one in the neighborhood asked the McMichael’s to go looking for suspects. “If they appointed themselves the neighborhood watchmen, they did so themselves,” the neighbor said. “Nobody around here asked for this firestorm.”
Before recusing himself from the case, prosecutor George Barnhill tried to argue that Gregory and his son Travis were protected under Georgia’s citizen’s arrest statute. In a letter to the Glynn County Police Department, Barnhill argued that Gregory and Travis had been legally carrying their weapons under Georgia law and because Arbery was a “burglary suspect,” they had “solid firsthand probable cause” to chase Arbery under the state’s citizen’s arrest law. When Travis and Arbery struggled with his shotgun, which can be seen in the video, Barnhill argued that Travis and Gregory acted in self-defense when gunshots went off.
According to DailyMail.com, a second letter from Barnhill said Gregory McMichael was previously involved in investigating Arbery, however, he did not specify what the offense was or describe the level of involvement.
“Barnhill is thought to be referring to a 2013 incident in which Arbery was caught with a gun tucked into his pants while he tried to attend a high school basketball game. Reports from the time suggest the then-18-year-old ran away but was chased and caught by several officers, one of whom suffered a fractured hand. He was sentenced to five years’ probation as a first offender for carrying a weapon on campus and several counts of obstructing a law enforcement officer. Arbery was also convicted of a probation violation in 2018 after he was charged with shoplifting. McMichael did not tell cops on the day of the shooting that he knew Arbery, however, or that he remembered him from the high school gun incident or any other previous investigations. He simply told officers he feared Arbery was armed because ‘the other night they saw the same male and he stuck his down his pants which led them to believe he was armed’, according to the police report.”
Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper, fought for prosecutor Barnhill to recuse himself from the case after she discovered that his son works in the Brunswick district attorney’s office, which had previously employed Gregory McMichael. Another Brunswick district attorney, Jackie Johnson, also recused herself because McMichael had worked in her office.
The case eventually went to Tom Durden of Hinesville, Georgia, who failed to move the case forward until the viral video spark national outcry and action. Durden then got the GBI involved, which led to the arrests of Gregory and Travis McMichael along with further investigations. Now, a special prosecutor has replaced Durden — Cobb County District Attorney Joyette Holmes.
In a Monday statement, Holmes said that her office seeks to present Arbery’s case to a grand jury for an indictment while acknowledging that the courts are closed through June 12. However, according to USA Today, she said her team “will work as expeditiously as possible to move the case forward.”
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