The unsigned note was simple, but haunting: “Ahmaud—I am so sorry. I should have stopped them. I am so sorry.”
Left at a memorial for Ahmaud Arbery, the 25-year-old Georgia man ambushed and killed by two white men in February, the note instantly provoked questions. Arbery family attorney Lee Merritt circulated it Wednesday on Twitter, writing, “We need to discover who left this note!”
According to CNN, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) identified the person who wrote the note on Thursday, saying the person who wrote it was not connected to Arbery’s killing, and was just “expressing their condolences for Arbery’s death.”
The GBI said it received numerous tips and inquiries related to the note, as interest in Arbery’s case remains high after months of inaction by local authorities.
Arbery’s killing sparked outrage internationally after a video released last week of his death went viral. The video showed Arbery, a former high school football player, running through the Satilla Shores neighborhoods near Brunswick, Ga., until his path is obstructed by two armed white men in a white pickup truck: Travis McMichael, armed with a rifle, and his father Gregory McMichael, who stood on the bed of the truck with a pistol. Arbery and Travis McMichael briefly scuffled before Travis unloaded three shots, killing Arbery in the middle of the street.
After watching the video, many compared Arbery’s death to a modern-day lynching. The GBI arrested the McMichaels last Thursday, charging them with felony murder and aggravated assault.
On Wednesday, 80 lawmakers sent a letter to the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division calling for a “fair and independent investigation into the handling of Mr. Arbery’s case.” Led by Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), the letter pointed out that the state of Georgia has no hate crime laws on its books.
“The DOJ Civil Rights Division is uniquely suited to investigate whether or not the tragic death of Mr. Arbery was a hate crime, or another violation of federal civil rights law,” the letter read, according to The Hill.
Politicians who signed the letter included Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), and delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.).