An unsigned, handwritten note apologizing for the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery was found at the site of the Georgia jogger's death on Wednesday, raising questions about the author's identity. The note, which was photographed by CBS affiliate WJXT was shared to social media by the network's reporters, reading most simply: "Ahmaud – I am so sorry. I should have stopped them. I am sorry." According to Fox News, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation declined to comment on whether the agency is currently locating the individual who penned it.
Wow - an unsigned note left on the street corner where #AhmaudArbery was shot and killed.
The note read “Ahmaud, I am so sorry. I should have stopped them. I am so sorry.”May 13, 2020
The Arbery family's attorney, S. Lee Merritt addressed the note in a tweet of his own, urging action in finding out the identity of the individual. "We need to discover who left this note!" he wrote. The civil rights attorney stated in an interview with MSNBC just days before the note was discovered that justice for the 25-year-old Brunswick man must be met after three Southern Georgian white citizens "essentially put together a posse and lynched a young man in broad daylight."
Arbery, a black man and former high school football standout living with his mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, was shot dead while jogging in the suburban neighborhood of Satilla Shores in Brunswick, Georgia on Feb. 23 where he was confronted by a white man and his son, per a Glynn County Police Department Incident Report. Investigators state the shooters Gregory McMichael and his son Travis McMichael used a .357 Magnum handgun and shotgun in their attack. They have since been arrested on May 7 for murder and aggravated assault, telling authorities that they believed Arbery looked like a suspect in several break-ins in their area. A third man was also involved in the terrorizing pursuit, according to police reports and documents.
The national outrage has sparked among many to call it a hate crime; however, the state doesn't have any. But the U.S. Justice Department can charge defendants under federal hate crime statutes. Georgia is one of the few states in America, including South Carolina, Arkansas, and Wyoming, that does not have official hate crime laws. Burke County representative Rep. Gloria Frazier announced plans to rename House Bill 426, which relates to the punishment of hate crimes to The Ahmaud Arbery Hate Crime Bill explaining how hate crimes should no longer be tolerated in their state. "There will be no more Ahmaud Arbery deaths," she said, according to USA Today. "We will not tolerate any more of this. We have sat back too long and watched so many of our young black men be murdered down in the street."
Arbery's mother, Cooper-Jones told the national newspaper that her son, the "baby" of their family, was a "humble" and "good boy," further stating that to "know Ahmaud" was to "love" him. "[He] didn't deserve to go the way he went," she said. Earlier this week, she had no remorse for the father and son charged with the murder of her son, telling TMZ that she is seeking the death penalty with prosecutors for the McMichaels. "Coming from the mother's... my point of view. My son died, so they should die as well," she said.
While Georgia is currently under a statewide Judicial Emergency until June 12, the case is planned to go before a grand jury. It is unclear if the McMichaels' legal team will request a change of venue, which will ultimately be decided by a judge.