Police in the southern US state of Georgia have failed to explain why it took them 74 days to arrest two men suspected of killing an unarmed black jogger in a crime sparking outrage across the world.
Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son Travis, 34, were arrested late Thursday and charged with murder and aggravated assault in the 23 February death of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery.
Mr Arbery’s death in the coastal city of Brunswick, captured in a video that has gone viral, was the latest killing of an unarmed black American, galvanizing activists who say the death highlights deeply rooted racism in the country.
Hundreds of demonstrators, their faces covered in masks to protect them from the coronavirus, gathered in front of the city’s courthouse on Friday to demand justice for Mr Arbery.
President Donald Trump said he had seen the video and called it “very, very disturbing.”
“That looks like a really good, young guy… It’s a very disturbing situation to me, and I just – you know, my heart goes out to the parents and the family and the friends,” he told Fox News in an interview.
Vic Reynolds, director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, told a news conference that “there is more than sufficient probable cause in this case for felony murder.”
Mr Reynolds declined to explicitly criticise local police who initially investigated the case in the two months after Mr Arbery was killed, but admitted “there were things that needed to be done and have been done yesterday.”
“Considering the fact that we hit the ground running Wednesday morning and within 36 hours we had secured warrants for two individuals for murder – I think that speaks volumes in itself,” he said.
He added that the investigation was ongoing and there could be more arrests.
Gregory and Travis McMichael were arrested two days after the release of a video showing Mr Arbery being gunned down in the middle of a road in broad daylight.
In the footage, Mr Arbery is seen running down a residential street and approaching a white pickup truck stopped in the right lane with a man standing in the back.
As Mr Arbery tries to get around the vehicle, he is confronted by a second man holding a shotgun. An altercation between the two ensues and three shots can be heard.
The man who filmed the clip that caught the nation’s attention has also been named as a person of interest in the investigation.
Mr Reynolds said the investigation would focus exclusively on the killing – and not the reasons why local authorities were so slow to act.
Media reports have said Gregory McMichael, a retired police officer, had long worked in the local district attorney’s office as an investigator.
The two first prosecutors in the case recused themselves, although it took several weeks for the second one to do so.
The original police report stated that Gregory McMichael had claimed he thought Mr Arbery was a burglar trying to escape the scene of a nearby break-in.
He said he and his son grabbed their guns and set off in pursuit, but that the confrontation went badly wrong.
The slain man’s family said he was simply out jogging and was the victim of a hate crime.
The footage of the shooting sent shockwaves across the country and prompted a number of celebrities to call for action, including basketball star LeBron James and actress Zoe Kravitz.