The first of the stories was published on the local newspaper’s website the day Ahmaud Arbery died. It was about three sentences long. Larry Hobbs, the crime beat reporter at the Brunswick News, remembers it well; after all, he wrote it. The essence: burglary suspect shot and killed in Satilla Shores, a subdivision outside Brunswick, Ga. The information within, as is the case with countless other items published each day about a sudden death in the United States, came only from police.
The next day, a Monday, Hobbs managed to get Arbery’s name from the coroner and included it and a few more lines in a followup story. Then he wrote about the close involvement of district attorney’s office investigators in examining what happened, and about official silence on whether the incident was being investigated as a possible homicide or case of self defense. Those were the first of many stories Hobbs would write about the shooting on Satilla Drive in February 2020, an event that would go on to seize national attention. He fit that work between other daily news, his column and a crime blotter he writes, sprinkled with storytelling flourishes that make it easy to imagine Mark Twain reading the contents to a crowd. Many weeks, Hobbs writes about 15 stories.