TMZ: Oprah surprises Ahmaud Arbery's mom with phone call, gift

Celebrities are offering condolences to the mother of the Ahmaud Arbery, the Georgia man who was shot and killed while jogging by a white father and son.

TMZ reports that Oprah Winfrey called Arbery's mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, on what would have been his 26th birthday.

Speaking to TMZ, Cooper-Jones says she was shocked when she answered the phone to hear Winfrey on the other end. She said that Oprah told her she was thinking of her family and hoped the family would get justice.

Arbery's mom also said the media mogul was sending something to her in the mail but did not know what it was going to be.

MORE: Georgia AG requests GBI to investigate handling of Ahmaud Arbery case

The day after the phone call, Winfrey posted a video on Instagram of herself, her boyfriend, and others walking 2.26 miles to honor Arbery and call for justice.

App users click here for live updates

"He went out for a jog while being Black. I wonder what was he thinking in those last seconds of his life? Unimaginable to go for a run in 2020 and end up dead because of the color of your skin," Winfrey said in the video's caption. I spoke with his mom Wanda yesterday who says she feels better now that the two men have finally been arrested. But they were only arrested because WE saw the video."

Arbery, 25, was fatally shot Feb. 23 by the men who told police they chased him because they believed he matched the appearance of a burglary suspect caught on surveillance video. Gregory McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, were arrested last week, more than two months later, after video of the shooting appeared online and provoked outrage. Federal prosecutors are also considering hate crimes charges, the Justice Department said; that would allow for a separate case in federal court.

Sign up for FOX 5 email alerts

Ahmaud Arbery

Arbery was hit by three shotgun blasts, according to an autopsy report released Monday by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. One shot grazed his right wrist, and the other two struck him in the chest. Blood tests for various drugs and alcohol all came back negative.

Many have expressed frustration with the investigation, questioning whether the arrests took so long because the suspects are white and the victim black. The killing happened in a subdivision bordered by marsh just outside Brunswick, a working-class port city of about 16,000 that also serves as a gateway to beach resorts on neighboring islands.

MORE: Georgia AG names Cobb County prosecutor to Ahmaud Arbery case

The McMichaels weren’t arrested until after the video became public and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation was asked to look into the killing. Gregory McMichael, 64, and Travis McMichael, 34, have been jailed since Thursday on charges of felony murder and aggravated assault.

Gregory McMichael and Travis McMichael

With courts largely closed because of the coronavirus, getting an indictment needed to try the men on murder charges will take a while longer still. The soonest a grand jury can convene to hear the case will be mid-June.

It was not known Monday whether the McMichaels had attorneys to represent them. They had no lawyers at their first court appearance Friday.

Gregory McMichael is a former Glynn County police officer who later worked 20 years as an investigator for the local district attorney’s office. He retired a year ago.

At the White House, President Donald Trump said Monday he’s following the case “very closely” and that Arbery “looks like a wonderful young guy.”

Cooper-Jones also told TMZ that Gayle King has called to offer kind words, and the Rev. Jesse Jackson said he wanted to visit her after it becomes safe to travel.


Download the FOX 5 Atlanta app for breaking news and weather alerts.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.