The ramming of a car Saturday afternoon into a crowd protesting a white nationalist rally in Virginia, killing a 32-year-old woman and injuring several others, has left many lawmakers and ordinary Americans shocked, angry and upset.
There were also two other fatalities related to the rally: A Virginia State Police helicopter crashed into woods nearby, killing two officers. Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates died at the scene.
Below, a primer to the deadly incident and the details we know so far:
The chaos kicked off when a group of white nationalists — including 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. The white nationalists were met with hundreds of counterprotesters, which led to street brawls and violent clashes. That, in turn, prompted Gov. Terry McAuliffe to declare a state of emergency.
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 a 32-year-old woman, 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.
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 President Trump, not for white nationalists.
“I thought it had something to do with Trump. Trump’s not a white supremacist,” she said.
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.
“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.
WHO ELSE WAS ARRESTED
Virginia State Police announced on Saturday night that three additional arrests were made related to the rally.
The individuals were Troy Dunigan, 21, of Chattanooga, Tennessee, arrested and charged with disorderly conduct; Jacob L. Smith, 21, of Louisa, Virginia, arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault and battery; and James M. O’Brien, 44, of Gainesville, Florida, arrested and charged with carrying a concealed handgun.
Heyer 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.
Of the 19 patients from the car incident Saturday that were transported to UVA Medical Center, 10 are in good condition and nine have been discharged, Angela Taylor with UVA Health Systems said on Sunday afternoon. She added that the hospital has treated additional patients related to Saturday’s events, but the facility does not have an exact number of patients.
In remarks from his golf club in New Jersey, President Donald Trump said, “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides. On many sides.”
The president’s implication that “many sides” were responsible for the violence, didn’t sit well with both lawmakers and private citizens.
“Very important for the nation to hear @potus describe events in #Charlottesville for what they are, a terror attack by #whitesupremacists,” tweeted Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.
Others were less blatantly critical of the president, but expressed their disgust at the rally and its attendees.
Sen. Ted Cruz slammed the violence associated with the rally and its aftermath in a strongly worded Facebook post.
“The Nazis, the KKK, and white supremacists are repulsive and evil, and all of us have a moral obligation to speak out against the lies, bigotry, anti-Semitism, and hatred that they propagate,” Cruz wrote in the statement.
Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., the lone African-American Republican in the senate, also called the attack “domestic terror” and encouraged it to be “condemned.”
“Otherwise hate is simply emboldened,” wrote Scott.
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, an independent and self-described Democratic Socialist, called the rally “reprehensible.”
“The white nationalist demonstration in #Charlottesville is a reprehensible display of racism and hatred that has no place in our society,” Sanders wrote.
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.
Elsewhere, there are rallies scheduled in Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Denver, New York City and Chicago.