Man who shot Arbery testifies: 'He had my gun. He struck me'

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BRUNSWICK, Ga. (AP) — The man who fatally shot Ahmaud Arbery spoke publicly about the killing for the first time Wednesday, testifying at his murder trial that the 25-year-old Black man force…
By RUSS BYNUM

BRUNSWICK, Ga. (AP) — The man who fatally shot Ahmaud Arbery spoke publicly about the killing for the first time Wednesday, testifying at his murder trial that the 25-year-old Black man forced him to make a split-second "life or death" decision by attacking him and grabbing his shotgun.

"I was thinking of my son," a teary Travis McMichael told the jury of the moment before he pulled the trigger. "It sounds weird, but that's the first thing that hit me."

He was the first witness called as defense attorneys for the three white men charged in Arbery's death opened their case, building on arguments that their clients were lawfully trying to stop burglaries in their neighborhood and that McMichael opened fire in self-defense.

The Feb. 23, 2020, shooting of Arbery after he was spotted running in the defendants' neighborhood deepened a national outcry over racial injustice after cellphone video of his death leaked online two months later. The slain man's family got support not only from civil rights activists, but also from powerful figures including Georgia's governor and President Joe Biden.

The three men on trial — Travis McMichael; his father, Greg McMichael; and neighbor William "Roddie" Bryan — have had virtually no defenders aside from for their attorneys. Travis McMichael's testimony marked the most personal and detailed account yet of why the men suspected Arbery of wrongdoing and why McMichael shot him.

"He had my gun," McMichael, 35, testified. "He struck me. It was obvious that he was attacking me, that if he would have gotten the shotgun from me, then this was a life or death situation, and I'm going to have to stop him from doing this so I shot."

He said warnings between neighbors and social media chatter about car break-ins and suspicious people had been increasing since 2018 when he moved in with his parents in the Satilla Shores subdivision just outside the port city of Brunswick.

A…
Russ Bynum
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