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Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vic Reynolds on Friday took a veiled swipe at the local probe into the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, a black jogger who was allegedly murdered by a white father and son more than two months ago.
“I can’t answer what another agency did or didn’t see but I can tell you that, based on our involvement in this case, considering the fact that we hit the ground running Wednesday morning and within 36 hours, we had secured warrants for two individuals for felony murder. I think that speaks volumes for itself and that probable cause was clear to our agents pretty quickly,” he said during a press conference.
Reynolds said there was a “solid belief” in the felony murder and aggravated assault case against Gregory McMichael, 64, and Travis McMichael, 34.
“I can tell you that if we didn’t believe it, we wouldn’t have arrested them,” Reynolds said.
He said that the investigation into Arbery’s death was ongoing and did not rule out other arrests. He added that when the GBI handed the case over to prosecutors, it would be airtight.
“It will be complete, it will be done and every stone will be turned over,” he said. “I promise you.”
Gregory McMichael, 64, left, and Travis McMichael, 34, are facing charges in the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, Georgia authorities say.
The McMichaels were arrested Thursday night for the Feb. 23 shooting in the coastal Georgia city of Brunswick. Arbery’s family said the 25-year-old was out jogging, though the McMichaels claimed they thought he was a burglar.
Reynolds said his agency became involved in the case late Tuesday and that by Wednesday morning, agents were making headway. He said his agents reviewed what had been done in the investigation and what was still left to do.
He said Friday that the McMichaels would not be charged with a hate crime because Georgia is one of a handful of states in the U.S. that does not have that law.
The grisly details of Arbery’s killing as well as the fact that no one had been arrested in the two months following his death led to a wave of national outrage as everyone from former Vice President Joe Biden Jr. to basketball star LeBron James to Russell Moore, a prominent leader of the Southern Baptist Convention, weighed in on the lack of developments from the Georgia police.
On Friday, President Trump also weighed in and said that the video showing the killing was “disturbing” to watch.
“I looked at a picture of that young man. He was in a tuxedo … I will say that that looks like a really good young guy,” Trump told “Fox & Friends.” He also said he had confidence in authorities to make sure the case is properly handled.
The video of the fatal shooting, taken from inside a vehicle, shows Arbery running along a two-lane residential road when he comes upon a white truck, with a man standing beside its open door. Another man is in the bed of the truck. Arbery runs around the truck and disappears briefly. Then shouting can be heard before Arbery emerges, fighting with the man outside the truck as three shotgun blasts ring.
Reynolds said the video of the incident was a key piece of evidence in the case and the agency would be investigating the man who filmed it, William Bryan.
“We are going to go wherever the evidence takes us,” Reynolds said. “In a perfect world, we would have preferred to have been asked to become involved in February, of course.”
Documents obtained by The New York Times seemed to show that the Georgia prosecutor who had the case sat on it for weeks before recusing himself over a conflict of interest.
That prosecutor had advised the Glynn County Police Department that there was “insufficient probable cause” to issue an arrest warrant.