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Witness in Arbery case says ‘no crime’ occurred at his construction site

Man who captured construction site footage told News4Jax the McMichaels’ response was ‘unjustified’

Digging deeper into Arbery case
Digging deeper into Arbery case

GLYNN COUNTY, Ga. – The Georgia Bureau of Investigation confirmed Saturday it was reviewing additional video evidence in the case of the Feb. 23 deadly shooting of Ahmaud Arbery.

News4Jax obtained a copy of security camera footage captured on the day of the deadly incident that shows a man entering a home under construction in the Satilla Shores neighborhood, only a fraction of a mile from where Arbery was pursued by Gregory McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, before being fatally shot.

Larry English is the owner of the property on which the home is being constructed and whose cameras recorded the moments when a man, who Arbery’s family believes is him, entered his property.

Beth Graddy, the attorney representing English, released a statement on his behalf on Tuesday.

"Mr. English wants to correct the mistaken impression that he had shared this video or any other information with the McMichaels prior to the McMichaels’ decision to chase Mr. Arbery,” Graddy said. “The homeowners had not even seen the February 23 video before Travis McMichael shot Mr. Arbery.”

When images of Arbery emerged online and in news coverage, English said his first impression was that Arbery was not the man in the video captured at his construction site on Feb. 23.

Satilla Drive construction project screenshot
Satilla Drive construction project screenshot

The English family lives about 90 miles away from the Satilla Drive property and installed the motion-activated cameras last year.

“Beginning about October 19, 2019, there were four or five occasions when a person (or persons) entered the house,” Graddy said. “These unauthorized entries occurred at night, and early on, Mr. English informed local law enforcement using a non-emergency contact number.”

The cameras positioned at multiple points in the house are activated by motion sensor technology and immediately send a text alert to the owner when that happens. The owner is then able to view the footage from a mobile device.

When an intruder activated the cameras in an earlier incident last year, English called 911.

“Mr. English was not the one who called 911 on February 23,” Graddy said. “Mr. English has never said that Mr. Arbery was the person or persons in any of those night-time videos, and he cannot identify the person now.”

Graddy said her client never used the word “burglary" nor did he share any of the information with the McMichaels, with whom he was not acquainted. She added that nothing was ever stolen from the construction site.

“The only crime that the homeowner has seen captured on video is the senseless killing of Mr. Arbery,” Graddy said.

On the day of the deadly shooting, English told News4Jax he and his family were two hours away from the Satilla Shores property.

According to Graddy, English was working with his bees when the Feb. 23 alert was sent to his phone that someone had entered his construction site. It took more than 20 minutes before English was able to clean his hands and access his phone to view the video.

“When he saw a person captured on video inside the house, he telephoned another property owner in Satilla Shores and asked whether he could see someone in the house and whether he should call the police,” Graddy said. “That property owner informed him that a man (later identified as Mr. Arbery) had been killed.”

Graddy declined to release the name of the neighbor who English contacted about the Feb. 23 alert.

She went on to emphasize that the Englishes were wholly dissatisfied and “deeply saddened” by the McMichaels’ actions.

“Even if theft or damage had occurred, the Englishes would never have wanted a vigilante response,” Graddy said. “The Englishes did not know the McMichaels. The Englishes never enlisted the McMichaels to do what they did and do not want to be part of any effort to justify the McMichaels’ actions.”

Graddy said the Englishes are heartsick for Arbery’s parents and are praying for the family.

Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son Travis McMichael, 34, are jailed charged with murder and aggravated assault in Arbery’s death, but those arrests didn’t come until after the original video of the shooting surfaced, prompting national outcry, and the GBI was asked to take over the investigation last week.