BRUNSWICK, Georgia – Supporters will gather virtually Friday to mourn Ahmaud Arbery, a black man who was fatally shot while jogging in February, by putting on their sneakers and posting on social media to say #IRunWithMaud.
Arbery, 25, was jogging in a neighborhood outside Brunswick, Georgia, on February 23 when he was chased down by a former police officer and his son who were armed, authorities said. Arbery was shot after struggling with the son over his shotgun, according to a Glynn County Police report. The former officer later told officers that he thought Arbery looked like a suspect in a series of nearby break-ins, the report said.
Jason Vaughn was Arbery's high school football coach. Now, he is asking supporters to honor Arbery by going for a run of 2.23 miles, representing the date of his death on Friday, which would have been his birthday. He asks that runners document their run and post it to social media under the hashtag #IRunWithMaud.
"With Covid-19 of course, we can't have a demonstration where we all come together," Vaughn said, adding that this demonstration is the best way to unite in his honor. "Any runner can identify with Maud, a guy who may have had a bad day, but he can go out there and hit the pavement and go jog."
The last time Vaughn saw Arbery was when they crossed paths while on a run. Vaughn said he wanted to catch up to Arbery and joke around with him, but Arbery pushed himself hard and he couldn't reach him.
"I'm going to keep going just like he was going last time I saw him," Vaughn said.
‘We will do justice’
Arbery's mother, Wanda Cooper told CNN on Sunday that she never worried about her son going out jogging because she said he wasn't bothering anyone.
On February 23, Gregory McMichael and his son Travis chased Arbery down, McMichael told police. Travis and Arbery struggled over Travis' shotgun, and two shots were fired before Arbery fell to the street, according to a Glynn County Police report.
McMichael later told officers he though Arbery looked like a person suspected in a recent series of break-ins, the report said.
CNN's attempts to reach the McMichaels were unsuccessful.
Atlantic Judicial Circuit District Attorney Tom Durden formally requested Tuesday night that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation investigate Arbery's death.
"Our goal in every investigation is to seek the truth, and that's exactly what we intend on doing in this matter," GBI Director Vic Reynolds said in a video statement Wednesday. "This investigation must be done correctly, and therefore I must ask for a little of your patience. I'm confident that we will do justice in this matter."
While authorities investigate, public figures are calling out the injustice they see in the case.
NBA superstar LeBron James tweeted his support of Arbery Wednesday night.
"We're literally hunted EVERYDAY/EVERYTIME we step foot outside the comfort of our homes!" James tweeted. "I'm sorry Ahmaud(Rest In Paradise) and my prayers and blessings sent to the..... heavens above to your family!!"
Speaking to MSNBC Wednesday, Georgia politician Stacey Abrams said that she supports an immediate investigation.
"It looks like vigilante behavior that should be charged and criminalized. And it looks like the Arbery family has been dealt a very sore hand of injustice," Abrams said.
Durden wrote in a news release obtained by CNN on Tuesday that he expects to present the case to the next available grand jury in Glynn County to consider whether charges are merited for those involved in Arbery’s death.