Saturday May 25th, 2024 9:28AM

Governor Brian Kemp, UGA President Jere Morehead speak on death of Laken Riley

By Austin Eller News Director

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and University of Georgia President Jere Morehead spoke Monday morning at separate events regarding the death of a nursing student Thursday on UGA's campus.

Kemp spoke early Monday at an Athens-Clarke County Chamber of Commerce meeting, directing blame at the Biden administration following the death of Laken Hope Riley, 22, of Athens. Riley was a student at Augusta University's Athens campus but had previously been enrolled at UGA.

Kemp's comments followed the Friday arrest of Jose Antonio Ibarra, 26, who is charged with murder in connection with Riley's death. Ibarra lived in Athens but was not a legal resident of the United States. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced Sunday that Ibarra was from Venezuela. He had previously been arrested in 2022 after illegally entering the United States. He was paroled near El Paso, Texas and released for further processing.

Ibarra's brother, Diego Ibarra, was also arrested Friday in Athens after he was found with a fraudulent green card.

"We need justice on a national level to prevent this type of thing from happening again," Kemp said Monday. "Laken's death is a direct result of failed policies on the federal level and an unwillingness by this White House to secure the southern border. We need to demand better from this administration."

Kemp sent a letter to President Biden on Friday following Riley's death, stating Biden's policies on border control have created a "clear and present danger" to U.S. citizens.

"Because of the president's failures, we don't know all that we should," Kemp said. "But we do know this: more than eight and a half million illegal immigrants have crossed the border since President Biden took office."

Morehead's comments about Riley's passing came in a meeting of the Gainesville Rotary Club on Monday.

"I appreciate the incredible work that was done by the UGA Police Department, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Athens-Clarke Police Department, our federal partners in bringing a very rapid conclusion of the criminal investigation and making an arrest within 24 hours," Morehead said. "While it does nothing to allay the horror and pain that the family and friends are facing at this time, it certainly reminds us that we need strong and effective law enforcement in this country."

UGA classes were canceled on Friday following the tragedy. 

"One thing I would say about this tragedy is the UGA community has really come together to comfort each other in the wake of this traumatic event," Morehead said.

A GoFundMe page was launched over the weekend to assist Riley's family and create a scholarship in her name. The fundraiser had raised over $122,000 as of 2:30 p.m. Monday.

Services for Riley will be held Friday at 1 p.m. at Woodstock City Church, with a visitation taking place beginning at 1 p.m.

  • Associated Categories: Homepage, Local/State News
  • Associated Tags: UGA, Athens, Brian Kemp, University of Georgia, Governor Brian Kemp, Laken Riley, Laken Hope Riley
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