The Satilla Shores neighborhood on the Georgia coast where the incident took place had seen a rash of petty crimes. Residents bought security cameras and stopped letting children play outside at night. Ahmaud Arbery was caught on video five times—mostly at night—wandering through a building under construction a few doors from where the McMichaels lived.
On the day of the shooting, Arbery was again at the building. A neighbor spotted him, and he sprinted away. The McMichaels saw him running, recognized him from videos, and chased him in their pickup. Travis, who had thought Arbery might be armed from the way he acted the first time he saw him, took a shotgun, and his father Greg had a pistol. They followed for five minutes, and several times came close enough to shout out the window, “Stop. We want to talk to you.” They called 911. At some point, Mr. Bryan joined the chase and took the video.
The McMichaels gave up following Arbery and parked in a place where they could get a good view of cross streets, so they could tell the police which way Arbery went. What happened next is on the video: Arbery could have run around their truck and kept going—he had already done that twice—or he could have turned off the road into unfenced land. Instead, he ran toward the pickup, darted around it, and made for Travis, who was holding a shotgun. The moment of contact is off camera, but the men are seen grappling for the gun as shots go off.