Ahmaud Arbery may have had a run-in with the men charged with his shooting death in Georgia nearly two weeks earlier, according to a new report.
A new witness in the case told police he believes Arbery was the man who was poking around a construction site in the Brunswick neighborhood on Feb. 11 — 12 days before the unarmed black jogger was shot dead nearby by two white men, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Ahmaud Arbery security video
Diego Perez said the owner of the construction site, Larry English, texted him a security video on Feb. 11 and told him someone was trespassing on the property. He asked Perez to check it out — which he did after arming himself, the outlet reported.
That’s when Travis McMichael — who is now charged with Arbery’s murder, along with his father Gregory McMichael — pulled up, Perez said.
“Travis saw him in the yard and Travis stopped,” Perez told the Journal-Constitution. “He confronted (the man) halfway into the yard. He said (the man) reached for his waistband, and Travis got spooked and went down the road.”
Travis McMichael, 34, then returned with his 64-year-old father — both of them armed — but the man was gone, Perez said.
Perez said the trespasser had been seen at the site in security videos months earlier.
Arbery was spotted at the site on Feb. 23, when surveillance footage shows him looking around the half-built house before he continues jogging down the block. That’s when the McMichaels pull up in a pickup truck, block Arbery’s path, and confront the unarmed jogger, cellphone video shows.
Travis McMichael shot Arbery with a shotgun twice at close range during a struggle between the two men. They have claimed it was self-defense.
Perez said he arrived at the shooting scene moments later and recognized Arbery as the man involved in the Feb. 11 confrontation.
“All we knew about him was that he was the guy who kept showing up on our cameras,” he said. “No one knew who it was.”
English told police that nothing was taken from the construction site. In a statement this week, he denounced the McMichaels‘ “vigilante response” that led to Arbery’s death.