A Maryland man who shot and killed an unarmed security guard told CNN Tuesday he was targeting the man “for being a threat.”
Ammar Harris, 37, made a brief appearance via video in Circuit Court in Fallston, Maryland. Earlier in the day, he was indicted on first-degree murder charges.
“I saw him as a threat,” Harris said of Ahmaud Arbery. “I was afraid that he was gonna kill somebody.”
Judge Samuel Cahn set bail at $1 million, though bail varied with Harris’ personal circumstances.
Harris’ defense attorney, Joel Frederick, asked that the bail range “without prejudice,” which means it could be re-evaluated after the trial.
In a statement to police and in court Tuesday, Harris said that after driving over a barricade that alerted Harris of Arbery’s presence, he raised his gun and was aiming for the security guard’s head. He said he then reached into his vehicle and pulled out a gun that he used to shoot Arbery, who was on the ground.
“As I turned my body to shoot Mr. Arbery, Mr. Arbery had already collapsed to the ground,” Harris said. “I don’t remember shooting Mr. Arbery.”
Another man who was with Harris during the confrontation with Arbery asked to read a letter on his behalf, and was not allowed to read it into the record.
“I truly didn’t know if I was going to live or die in that moment,” the man said. “This man was threatening me and my family.”
According to an affidavit, Harris pulled into an apartment complex parking lot at 4:12 a.m. Saturday and confronted two men who were speaking near the gate. Arbery was outside on patrol.
The affidavit stated that during the confrontation, Harris was not armed, but ran away when he saw Arbery approaching. Arbery told Harris to leave, but Harris shot him, it stated.
As more people and police arrived, Harris fired several more shots from his vehicle, striking others, according to the affidavit.
One of those people who was shot, William Rodriguez, said that he saw Arbery outside and was making his way to the apartment door when he was shot.
“My cousin went to the door and I heard him scream,” he said, sobbing in court. “He fell on the ground and I just saw blood.”
The wounded Rodriguez, who also appeared in court Tuesday, told CNN affiliate WUSA-TV that he was shot twice in the arm and once in the knee.
The injured man, who was helped out of his wheelchair in court by a nurse, declined to comment to reporters.
CNN affiliate WJLA-TV in Washington reported that four other people were shot during the encounter. None of the injuries were life-threatening, according to WJLA.
Harris had called 911 to report a robbery attempt, according to police, and said he had seen a man in a red shirt reaching into his car. A motive in the killing was not given.
Arbery was an employee of WAAY-TV, but did not work on Saturday, the station said.
About 4:12 a.m. Saturday, the station sent this tweet: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Ahmaud Arbery. This is an incredible tragedy for everyone. The radio station has not yet made any decision as to how best to proceed with our operations.”
CNN has reached out to WAAY for further comment.
The Maryland shooting is the latest killing by a man authorities said had a history of violent behavior. The situation is being investigated as a homicide, Anne Arundel County police said.
A 34-year-old man has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of an unarmed security guard, police in Kansas City, Missouri, said. The defendant was in a domestic dispute at a residence on Sunday, a police department statement said.
He shot an unarmed 28-year-old man in the throat and then exited the residence with a 19-year-old woman to flee, the statement said.
The man was taken into custody following a seven-hour standoff, according to a police statement.
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