Less than two weeks before the February 23 shooting that left Ahmaud Arbery dead, a suspect arrested in the case had a confrontation with an unidentified African American man who had entered a neighboring house under construction, according to an attorney for the house’s owner.
Homeowner Larry English said the incident involved Travis McMichael, who along with his father is facing charges in Arbery’s death, said English’s attorney, Elizabeth Graddy.
English got a text message the night of February 11 from a neighbor who’d agreed to watch the property reporting that McMichael had encountered someone at the site, Graddy told CNN, but he is “unaware if the confrontation on the property involved Ahmaud.”
Arbery, 25, was jogging several days later in that same area – the Satilla Shores neighborhood outside Brunswick – when he was shot. McMichael, 34, and his father, Greg McMichael, 64, were arrested May 7 and face charges of felony murder and aggravated assault, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Graddy shared with CNN a transcript of the text message exchange English had with his neighbor:
“The police showed up and we all searched for a good while. I think he got spooked and ran after Travis confronted him. Travis says they (sic) guy ran into the house.”
“Let me know if he shows up or they find him. I appreciate you letting me know.”
In a recording of a 911 call made February 11, a caller who identified himself as Travis McMichael said he’d just “caught a guy running into a house being built, two houses down from me. When I turned around, he took off running into the house.”
The man reached into his pocket when he saw the caller, so he might be armed, the caller said. The man was a “black male. Red shirt, white shorts.”
The neighborhood had been having a lot of burglaries and break-ins, the caller said in the recording that was provided to CNN by the Brunswick 911 operations coordinator, Cara Richardson. In the more than seven weeks before the shooting, there was only one burglary reported in the Satilla Shores neighborhood: a 9 mm pistol stolen January 1 from Travis McMichael’s unlocked truck outside the McMichael’s home, the Glynn County Police Department has said.
The 911 call ended when police arrived.
Motion-sensor security cameras recorded surveillance video showing a trespassing on English’s property on February 11, Graddy said. English told CNN he could not identify the person he says he saw on the video after the February 11 incident. He did not report the incident to the police, he said.
Surveillance video appeared to show Arbery at the same construction site just moments before he was killed on February 23. In that video, a man can be seen walking around and not touching anything. English said he did not report a crime after that episode, and he only saw the footage after Arbery’s death, Graddy has said.
“I don’t want it to be put out and misused and misinterpreted for people to think that I had accused Mr. Arbery of stealing or robbery, because I never did,” English told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Tuesday night.
After the shooting, Greg McMichael told police there had been “several break-ins” in the area, and that Arbery looked like a suspect caught on surveillance video.
When the McMichaels saw Arbery jogging on the day of the shooting, the two men grabbed guns and chased him, according to the police report.
When they caught up to him, Travis McMichael exited the truck with a shotgun, and a struggle ensued between him and Arbery, according to the report. The elder McMichael alleged to police that Travis McMichael shot Arbery after the latter attacked him.