ATLANTA — Atlanta Police homicide detectives have released a new clue in their investigation of a man who was shot and killed near the BeltLine the night of Feb. 25. His body was discovered early the next morning.
Investigators released new surveillance video during a press conference Thursday afternoon from the night of Feb. 25, just hours before joggers found Thomas Arnold dead.
"Our team has been working relentlessly in processing that video. We have been working tirelessly in making sure that we conduct this investigation in a meticulous manner," Atlanta Police Homicide Commander Ralph Woolfolk said.
Video shows a black BMW at the intersection of Elizabeth and Bernina Avenue on the night that Arnold was killed.
Woolfolk said the video shows three persons of interest on the night of Feb. 25 – one of them was wearing an "I love New York" shirt.
He said the video released was minutes before Arnold was killed. Due to the tight timeline of the video, Woolkfolk said that's why the three are being considered as persons of interest at this time.
"We're asking for all persons in this video to please come forward, for anyone who might've heard anything, or might've observed anything including the woman that's depicted in this video," Woolkfolk said.
Woolkfolk added they are looking for any timeframe approximately between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. that evening.
"I want you to pay close attention here to their walk," Woolfolk said about the individuals seen in the video. "Pay attention to the mannerisms, the jackets, the clothing, in which these individuals are wearing and, once again, specifically the very peculiar walks in which–all three of these individuals have very distinct walking patterns, as we see here."
They are also seen in the video rummaging around, pulling on door handles, and touching the rear trunk of the BMW.
"We are asking for the owner of that vehicle to please come forward. If this vehicle belongs to you, we would like an opportunity to process that vehicle," Woolfolk said.
The video then shows the three individuals walking onto the BeltLine.
They walk out of camera range. Then, Woolfolk said, the sound of a gunshot can be heard on the recording. After that, the three men re-appear, walking back the way they came.
"As the video progresses, we see a young lady walking down the BeltLine and she is being followed. It looks like these three individuals are making unwanted advances in following her in an aggressive manner," Woolfolk said.
Atlanta Police said the reward for any information leading to the identification and potentially an arrest in the case has been increased to $35,000 – coming from Crime Stoppers Atlanta, family and friends.
A white cross and flowers mark the trail near where Arnold was killed. Reward flyers are posted up and down that part of the BeltLine.
Evan Forster, a friend of Arnold's and the General Manager of Pure Taqueria in Inman Park, said said Arnold, 60, had just retired from a career in the corporate world, and was deeply involved in community charities and projects and causes.
“He’s just one of those guys that instantly puts you at ease,” Forster said. “He’s just always chatty and just upbeat and positive, always got something going on, just a very friendly guy. One of those people that never met a stranger. He was surrounded by friends, constantly.”
Forster remembers the night Arnold was killed. Arnold was at Forster's restaurant with friends, and was enjoying the evening.
“Upbeat, positive, as always, nothing out of the ordinary,” Forster said. “Just a regular night, having a couple beers with some friends, and hanging out and chatting and, you know, having some laughs, it was just a normal, Friday night.”
At about 10:00, Forster said, Arnold left to go home, walking along the BeltLine, his usual route.
"He was just walking home which was pretty common for him to take that route, so I don’t think it was anything out of the ordinary for him, it was just another walk home after hanging out with some friends for a couple hours," he said.
Forster said he wants people with information to come forward.
"Atlanta, as a whole, has got to do better, the city is better than this, this senseless violence has got to stop," he said.
Woolfolk added at the press conference that information will be critical to help investigators become one step closer to solving the case.
"We're asking the public to work with us as you have in so many cases before," Woolfolk said.
Anyone with information about Arnold's death is asked to call the Atlanta Police Homicide Unit at 404-546-4235 or Crime Stoppers at 404-577-8477.