Timeline: Events leading up to the arrests of 3 men in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery

Gregory and Travis McMichael and William Bryan were charged in Arbery's murder.

May 21, 2020, 7:27 PM

Ahmaud Arbery's parents, Wanda Cooper-Jones and Marcus Arbery Sr., remember their son as a vibrant and well-mannered young man, who had his entire life ahead of him.

They said that the 25-year-old went for a routine afternoon jog on Sunday, Feb. 23, through the Satilla Shores, Georgia, neighborhood that's located a town over from where he lived in Brunswick.

After seeing Ahmaud Arbery, who is African American, Gregory McMichael alerted his son Travis McMichael, and the two men, both white, set off to confront Arbery, police said.

Armed with a shotgun and a .357 magnum handgun, respectively, and the Georgia laws -- which allow civilians to pursue a suspect if they see a crime being committed and make an arrest until law enforcement arrive -- the father and son hopped into their white pickup truck and went after Ahmaud Arbery, according to police reports.

Ahmaud Arbery was shot and declared dead on the scene by the coroner.

After the shooting, Gregory McMichael told police that there were "several break-ins" in the neighborhood and that he saw the "suspect," according to police reports.

Ahmaud Arbery, 25, was allegedly killed by a father and son while jogging on Feb. 23, 2020. The FBI and DOJ are investigating the case and a grand jury is expected to decide if charges should be filed.
Courtesy The Arbery family

During the following months, neither of the McMichaels were arrested or charged with, or in connection to, Ahmaud Arbery's death.

But on May 5, a 28-second cellphone video leaked onto social media. The video showed Arbery getting shot and killed

Thirty-six hours later, officials with the Georgia Bureau of Investigations secured warrants to arrest the McMichaels, who are presently booked in a Glynn County jail.

Here's how the case developed:

Feb. 11

Officers with the Glynn County Police Department had been called to the Satilla Shores neighborhood three times since October 2019 for reports of a trespasser on the construction site of a new home being built nearby the McMichaels' house, according to police reports obtained by ABC News.

On Feb. 11, the owner of the construction site told police that the same "unknown black male" kept trespassing on his property, which has surveillance cameras, according to a police report. That alleged suspect was described as a "lighter skinned black male, slender build" who was between 5 feet,10 inches tall and 6 feet, and whose arms may have been covered in tattoos and has 3- to 4-inch "twists/dreads hairstyle," the report read.

Ahmaud Arbery was 6 feet with a darker skin complexion.

Feb. 23

Cooper-Jones said she never had to worry about her son when he went out for his daily jog because he didn't bother anyone.

Ahmaud Arbery, 25, was allegedly shot and killed by a father and son while jogging in Georgia.
Courtesy Civil Rights Attorney S. Lee Merritt

But when police came to her home on Feb. 23, she said they told her that her son had been shot and killed inside a house during the commission of a burglary. Cooper-Jones said she didn't question the officer.

"I didn't question it because it was authority talking," said Cooper-Jones.

Feb. 27

Brunswick District Attorney Jackie Johnson wrote a letter recusing herself from the investigation in order to avoid a conflict of interest. Gregory McMichael, 64, had retired as an investigator with the Brunswick District Attorney's Office and had previously served as a Glynn County police officer.

Cooper-Jones said news reports started to come out that contradicted what the police told her about her son's death. "He wasn't killed inside a house but chased down and shot in the street," she said.

Johnson requested that the state's attorney general, Christopher Carr, assign the case to another office to investigate.

Feb. 29

Arbery's funeral service took place at New Springfield Baptist Church, in Alexander, where he was buried.

"He was a loving son, brother, uncle, nephew, cousin, and friend. He was humble, kind and well mannered. He always made sure he never departed from his loved ones without an 'I Love You,'" according to his obituary.

PHOTO: A cross with flowers and the letter A sits at the entrance to the Satilla Shores neighborhood where Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed, May 7, 2020 in Brunswick, Ga.
A cross with flowers and the letter A sits at the entrance to the Satilla Shores neighborhood where Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed, May 7, 2020 in Brunswick, Ga. Arbery was shot during a confrontation with an armed father and son on Feb 23, 2020.
Sean Rayford/Getty Images

Ahmaud Arbery was the youngest of three siblings. In high school, he wore the same football jersey as his older brother.

"He had a smile that would light up a room. He loved to tell jokes, to elicit laughter and had a beautiful personality," the obituary said.

He was born on Mother's Day 1994. He was 25.


The case was then referred to Waycross District Attorney George E. Barnhill.

Cooper-Jones said she found out through her own investigation that Barnhill's son worked for the Brunswick District Attorney's Office and had a connection with Gregory McMichael as well.

Cooper-Jones said she called Barnhill's office to let him know what she had found.

April 1

The Glenn County Coroner's Office's report shows that 11 shotgun pellets were removed from Arbery's chest and there were several injuries throughout his body.

"This 25-year-old black male, Ahmaud Arbery, died of multiple shotgun wounds sustained during a struggle for the shotgun," the coroner said.

Toxicology reports came back negative for traces of drugs and alcohol in Arbery body.

The report, in part, described Arbery as 5 foot 10, 165 pounds, black hair with twists and faded on the sides and multiple tattoos on both upper arms.

April 7

Barnhill wrote a three-page letter, first reported by The New York Times, recusing himself from the case and explaining that there was not enough probable cause to arrest the McMichaels.

Also in the letter, Barnhill wrote that there is a "videotape" of the crime and that a third man, William Bryan, was also a part of what he called the "hot pursuit of a burglary suspect."

"It appears their intent was to stop and hold this criminal suspect until law enforcement arrived. Under Georgia Law this is perfectly legal," Barnhill wrote. Barnhill also wrote that it appeared that Arberry had grabbed the shotgun and "initiated the fight" and that under "Georgia law, McMichael was allowed to use deadly force to protect himself."

April 13

Carr then assigned Atlantic Judicial Circuit District Attorney Tom Durden to the case.

Durden said he did not have any knowledge of the case or know any of the witnesses or investigators involved.

April 28

Community leaders, including the state's NAACP, issued a statement calling on Durden to arrest the McMichaels for Arbery's murder.

"We are deeply troubled by the senseless violence against black life in this country. Instead of preparing to celebrate his 26th birthday alive, Ahmaud is being remembered as the latest victim of racial terrorism," according to a statement by Georgia's NAACP President Rev. James Woodall.

Online petitions were launched and the hashtag "#RunWithMaud" and "#JusticeForAhmaudArbery" began to surface on social media.

PHOTO: Travis McMichael and his father, Gregory McMichael, right, in a photos released on May 7, 2020, after their arrest in Georgia. The father and son have been charged with murder in the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery.
Travis McMichael and his father, Gregory McMichael, right, in a photos released on May 7, 2020, after their arrest in Georgia. The father and son have been charged with murder in the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, after spotting him running in their neighborhood.
Glynn County Sheriff's Office

May 5

Durden announced that Ahmaud Arbery's case should be presented in front of a grand jury to determine if Gregory and Travis McMichael should be arrested and charged with the murder.

However, because of the coronavirus pandemic the courts would not be opened until June 12.

Nonetheless, attorneys for Arbery's family S. Lee Merritt and Ben Crump called for the McMichaels to get arrested.

Demonstrators protest the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery at the Glynn County Courthouse, May 8, 2020, in Brunswick, Ga. Gregory McMichael and Travis McMichael were arrested the previous night and charged with murder.
Sean Rayford/Getty Images

On the same day of Durden's announcement, a 28-second cellphone video allegedly taken by Bryan was leaked onto social media.

The video showed Arbery jogging toward a parked white truck where Gregory McMichael is allegedly in the flatbed and armed with the .357 magnum handgun.

Arbery is seen running around the truck on the passenger side, according to the video.

As Arbery emerges from in front of the truck, he and Travis McMichael are seen tussling with the shotgun, which in total goes off three times.

Arbery is seen stumbling forward before collapsing on the pavement.

The video went viral.

That evening, Durden requested for the Georgia's Bureau of Investigations to step in to investigate Arbery's murder as well as who leaked the video and who made threats against the Glynn County police department.

The GBI "is an independent, statewide agency that supports the state's criminal justice system in the areas of criminal investigations, forensic laboratory services and computerized criminal justice information," according to its website.

May 6

The GBI begin investigating Ahmaud Arbery's murder.

At a video press conference the family's attorneys, S. Lee Merritt and Ben Crump, called for the Department of Justice and the FBI to also investigate this case and file federal hate crime charges.

The state of Georgia does not have hate crime laws.

May 7

The GBI secured arrest warrants for Gregory and Travis McMichael.

The father and son were arrested at 7:45 p.m. without incident, said GBI Director Vic Reynolds.

They are charged with felony murder and aggravated assault.

A woman displays a sign during a rally to protest the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed black man, May 8, 2020, in Brunswick Ga.
John Bazemore/AP

May 10

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr formally requested that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigate the handling of the Ahmaud Arbery case.

The request to the DOJ includes an investigation into the discussions between the offices of Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jackie Johnson and Waycross Judicial Circuit District Attorney George E. Barnhill.

May 11

Cobb County District Attorney Joyette Holmes was assigned by Attorney General Christopher Carr to lead the prosecution.=

May 20

Investigators executed a search warrant at the home of Gregory and Travis McMichael, GBI announced. No further information was released.

May 21

GBI announced it arrested Bryan on charges of felony murder and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment, stemming from the Feb. 23 murder of Arbery. He will be booked into the Glynn County Jail, the bureau said.

The attorneys for Arbery's mother and father said the family was "relieved" to learn of Bryan's arrest.

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