Video shows person at construction site 12 days before Ahmaud Arbery’s death
Property owner who captured the footage says he doesn’t recognize the person in the video
BRUNSWICK, Ga. – The attorney for a property owner in the Satilla Shores neighborhood has released video showing someone inside a home being built on the property less than a mile from where Ahmaud Arbery was killed.
Attorney Beth Graddy, who represents property owner Larry English, said the footage was captured Feb. 11 -- 12 days before Arbery, 25, was pursued by Gregory McMichael and his son, Travis, and fatally shot Feb. 23.
Graddy shared the video with News4Jax Wednesday after the Georgia Bureau of Investigation confirmed it was reviewing more video related to the case. It’s unclear whether the Feb. 11 video is part of that evidence.
News4Jax previously obtained a copy of security camera footage captured on the day of the deadly shooting that shows a man, who Arbery’s family believes is him, entering the home under construction. English said he did not know the identity of the person in the Feb. 23 video, and that person didn’t resemble any person captured in previous security video.
The person in the Feb. 11 video has not been identified, which is why News4Jax has blurred the person.
“The security camera system transmitted the video shortly after it was captured that night. Mr. English did not recognize the person depicted, and he still does not know who the person is," Graddy said in a statement released Wednesday.
English said he recalled four or five instances of someone entering the construction site. He said those incidents, one of which was captured in the Feb. 11 clip, began in October and continued until just prior to the deadly shooting of Arbery.
Graddy said English contacted the only neighbor he knew at that point, Diego Perez, who texted the following:
"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 the guy ran into the house. Let me know if he shows up or if they find him. I appreciate you letting me know.”
English said he did not pay much attention to the incident at the time, as he had been focused on treatment for sarcoidosis, which kept his family away from the property from December to late April.
“All of the information they possessed about these events came from the camera system and from texts from a neighbor," English’s attorney said. “Mr. English did not connect the Travis mentioned in the text with Travis McMichael because he did not know Travis McMichael.”
Graddy said Perez approached English in mid-October, and English’s recollection is that the neighbor had heard about the unauthorized entry that had occurred in October, which English reported to police using the non-emergency line. English said he doesn’t know how the neighbor knew about the October incident.
“A neighbor or two down had found out that I had some videos and some different people that had been on the videos, and I think at the time period he had had some tools stolen out of the back of his truck,” English told News4Jax. “The best I can remember, he contacted me and let me know that if there were ever a situation or an instance that I need to call him."
English’s attorney said the two exchanged cellphone numbers, English shared the October video and Perez texted:
"Goodness. If you catch someone on your cameras, let me know right away, I can respond in mere seconds. It’s totally up to you. Our yards connect in the back and I can go either way, through he front or back, with your permission.
“Thank you for texting me. I’ll put up another camera facing that way so I can keep an eye out in real time. I watch the cameras pretty often.”
Prior to Feb. 23, according to Graddy, English had never met Gregory McMichael. English said he met Travis McMichael once last summer when McMichael and his young son passed by the English property in a boat.
“Mr. McMichael’s son was attracted by the large crane and other machinery that was present for the purpose of installing a dock on the English property. Travis McMichael introduced himself and his son, and the men spoke for about 15 minutes in what is best described as a neighborly chat about the work on the property, Mr. McMichael’s recreational hunting, and Mr. English’s recreational fishing,” Graddy said.
Graddy said English never discussed the unauthorized entries at his property prior to Arbery’s death and never shared any video with them.
“Gregory McMichaels approached Mr. English in late April and asked about the February 23 video. Mr. English did not maintain the conversation,” Graddy said.
The English family lives about 90 miles away from the waterside lot along Satilla Drive, which English bought three years ago, and installed the motion-activated cameras positioned at multiple points in the house last year.
“So we went ahead and had the cameras put up to keep an eye on the boat and any kind of traffic from children in the neighborhood,” English said.
His attorney said nothing was ever taken from English’s property.
“When motion triggered a camera, it would transmit the captured video to Mr. English’s cell phone, which would alert him that he had received a text. Mr. English did not save the videos because he did not know they would become important. Videos not saved eventually ‘fall’ out of the system’s queue. If texted, however, the videos are saved with texts," Graddy said. "At this point, the only videos that Mr. English has located are the February 11 and February 23 videos. We are attempting to obtain all other videos from the security camera service.”
Graddy went out to say English’s health has worsened and he is upset about Arbery’s death. English also said he’s heartbroken for Arbery’s parents.
“Being a parent, there are a lot of changes when you have children and you can sympathize with other parents when they go through something like this, and it’s something that I wouldn’t want to see happen to anybody,” he said.
On Tuesday, Graddy released another statement on English’s behalf in regards to the Feb. 23 video.
"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.
“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, at which point, he called Perez.
“At that point, when I told him I had the notification, that I had the video, that someone was in the garage ... I can’t remember his exact words, but to the point that he said, ‘No use to kind of worry about it because there’s been a gentleman shot down here and I think he’s dead,'” English recounted Wednesday.
Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son, 34-year-old Travis McMichael, are 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 and the GBI was asked to take over the investigation last week.
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