ATLANTA – Hopes of finding a new witness in the case of an unarmed black jogger whose fatal shooting in Georgia sparked national outcry were dashed on Thursday afternoon.
The note to Ahmaud Arbery’s memorial saying “I should have stopped them” was left by a person “who expressed his condolences” and not a new witness in the case of the jogger who was shot after being chased by an ex- agent and said his son, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in a Twitter message.
“We have received numerous tips and questions about this and we wanted to make sure we keep the public informed.”
The Arbery community and family, 25, saw the report that attracted national media attention as a potential sign of new evidence, said James “Major” Woodall, the Georgia state president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)).
“Most importantly, we wanted to keep this and investigate it by the police,” said Woodall. “It was potentially new evidence.”
A GBI spokesperson did not respond to phone calls or emails asking for additional comments.
The unsigned one-page note was discovered earlier this week by a television news crew near the monument, erected in the victim’s hometown of Brunswick, about 300 miles southeast of Atlanta.
More than two months after the February 23 murder, a white, former law enforcement officer and his son, who were seen on the video chasing the 25-year-old jogger, were arrested last week and charged with serious assault and murder.
The shooting was reminiscent of a wave of murders of black men in recent years involving white police officers or former officers. The outrage at the murders and response to them by the U.S. criminal justice system led to the formation of the Black Lives Matter movement and national protests.
“Ahmaud – I’m so sorry. I should have stopped them. I’m so sorry, ‘the letter reads in full. It was posted on the internet by multiple media outlets.
The two suspects, Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son Travis, 34, were arrested and charged on May 7 after the local prosecutor asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to investigate the case.
Their arrests came just days after the release of the video, which caused national furore led by civil rights activists and celebrities.
The video was shot by William “Roddie” Bryan, who told police he was a bystander and not involved.
The United States Department of Justice has launched an investigation into why the charges have not been previously filed and whether the suspects should be charged with federal hate crimes.