Police arrested a 20-year-old man accused of driving his Dodge Challenger into a crowd of protesters marching against a white supremacist rally in the US state of Virginia on Saturday.
— Henry Graff (@HenryGraff) August 13, 2017
The assailant was identified as James Alex Fields, Jr., who was charged with second degree murder, one count of hit-and-run, attended failure to stop with injury and three counts of malicious wounding.
A photo of Fields marching with apparent Vanguard America members have been circulated on the internet. In the image, he is carrying a shield with the group’s emblem.
Looks like killer member of "Vanguard America," neo-Nazi group part of "Nationalist Front" led by Matthew Heimbach. Known for vandalism. pic.twitter.com/pjseWbThrN
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) August 13, 2017
The incident in Charlottesville killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer, and injured dozens more.
— Matt Talhelm (@MattTalhelm) August 13, 2017
The chaos started when a group of neo-Nazis, skinheads, and Ku Klux Klan members descended upon Charlottesville for the Unite the Right rally. The gathering was spurred on by the city’s plans to remove a Confederate statue from a local park.
— VA State Police (@VSPPIO) August 12, 2017
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Richmond Division, the Civil Rights Division and the Attorney General’s Office for the Western District of Virginia are investigating whether it was a civil rights incident,
— Dan Scavino Jr. (@Scavino45) August 13, 2017
As the counterprotesters were marching along a downtown street, a silver Dodge Challenger suddenly came barreling through the crowd. The impact tossed people into the air, and left 32-year-old Heather Heyer dead.
“It was a wave of people flying at me,” Sam Becker, 24, told The Associated Press as he sat in a hospital emergency room, where he was treated for leg and hand injuries.
— Charlottesville City (@CvilleCityHall) August 12, 2017
Who is James Alex Fields Jr.
Law enforcement officials say the driver is James Alex Fields Jr., a 20-year-old who recently moved to Ohio from where he grew up in Kentucky.
Fields’ mother, Samantha Bloom, told The Associated Press during an interview in Toledo, Ohio, that she knew her son was attending a rally — but she thought it was a rally for PresidentTrump, not for white nationalists.
She added, “I just knew he was going to a rally. I mean, I try to stay out of his political views. You know, we don’t, you know, I don’t really get too involved, I moved him out to his own apartment, so we — I’m watching his cat.”
Fields has been charged with second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding, and one count related to leaving the scene. A bond hearing is scheduled for Monday.
Fields’ former high school history teacher described the suspect’s “radical ideas on race” to ABC’s Cincinnati affiliate WCPO.
“He was very infatuated with the Nazis, with Adolf Hitler. He also had a huge military history, especially with German military history and World War II. But, he was pretty infatuated with that stuff,” Derek Weimer told WCPO. Weimer taught history to Fields at Randall K. Cooper High School in Union, Kentucky. He said overall Fields was a quiet, respectful student, albeit with radical views.
“In his freshman year, he had an issue with that that was raised, and from then on we knew that he had those issues. I developed a good rapport with him and used that rapport to constantly try to steer him away from those beliefs to show clear examples — why that thinking is wrong, why their beliefs were evil, you know, things like that,” Weimer said.
Heather Heyer, 32, was killed while marching with the crowd hit by the car allegedly driven by Fields. A GoFundMe page for Heyer’s memorial raised over $80,000 in just 11 hours.
The University of Virginia Health System tweeted Saturday night that it had received 20 people following the car-slamming, including the victim who died. As of 7:36 p.m. — the hospital’s most recent update — 5 patients were in critical condition, 4 were in serious condition, 6 in fair condition, and 4 in good condition.
As we noted earlier, one person has died. 5 patients are in critical condition, 4 in serious cond., 6 in fair, and 4 in good condition
— UVA Health System (@uvahealthnews) August 12, 2017
Sunday’s vigils and solidarity rallies
A slew of gatherings across the country are slated for Sunday to stand in solidarity with Charlottesville.
In Washington, D.C., a candlelight vigil at the White House is scheduled for 8:30 p.m., the “Vigil for Justice” is slated for 5 p.m. at the World War II Memorial at the National Mall, and the “River of Light in Solidarity with #Charlottesville” vigil is slated for 7 p.m. at Lafayette Park.