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Subdivision’s social posts reflected fear ahead of Arbery shooting

Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski shows a video of Ahmaud Arbery walking through a house under...
Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski shows a video of Ahmaud Arbery walking through a house under construction during the trial of Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan in the Glynn County Courthouse, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. The three are charged with the February 2020 slaying of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery.(Stephen B. Morton | AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)
Published: Nov. 22, 2021 at 11:36 AM EST
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BRUNSWICK, Ga. (AP) — Months before Ahmaud Arbery was killed, shooter Travis McMichael posted a simple, chilling response to a Facebook post about a suspected car burglary on his Georgia neighborhood: “Arm up.”

The post he commented on came between chats about lost dogs and water service interruption, like in many other online neighborhood social media groups.

In the year before Arbery’s death, the group’s Facebook posts portray a subdivision increasingly on edge over low-level incidents, with neighbors swapping suspicions and becoming willing to take matters into their own hands.

Amid broad re-examination of race, criminal justice and the role of technology, online neighborhood forums around the U.S. have a troubling tendency to veer from wholesome community chitchat to anxious hypervigilance.

McMichael testified last week that he pulled the trigger fearing for his own life.

The trial of father and son Greg and Travis McMichael and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan is nearing an end, with closing arguments by prosecutors and defense attorneys taking place Monday.

Both sides rested after 10 days of trial testimony.

Each of the defendants is charged with murder and other crimes in the death of Arbery, who was fatally shot last year after he was spotted running in their neighborhood outside the port city of Brunswick.

Bryan’s cellphone video of the shooting — leaked online two months after Arbery’s death — dramatically raised the killing’s profile, making it part of a larger national outcry over racial injustice.

Questioned on cross-examination by prosecutor Linda Dunikoski, Travis McMichael admitted his testimony didn’t always match up with what he told police the day of the shooting on Feb. 23, 2020. He said he had been scared and nervous after “the most traumatic event of my life.”

McMichael also acknowledged to Dunikoski that Arbery never threatened him or showed a weapon during the five-minute pursuit that ended in the shooting.

“All he’s done is run away from you,” Dunikoski said. “And you pulled out a shotgun and pointed it at him.”

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