Police charge man with murder after car slams into crowd in Charlottesville and kills 3
The car attack came about two hours after state police in riot gear had cleared Emancipation Park, the site of the Robert E Lee statue. The city’s decision in February to remove the statue drew earlier protests by the “alt-right” and the Ku Klux Klan.
Police in the town of Charlottesville, Virginia have on Saturday arrested and charged a man in connection with an incident in which a car drove into a crowd of people protesting against a planned white supremacist rally, killing 3 people and 19 injured.
Charlottesville Police announced that they have arrested and charged 20-year-old Ohio resident James Alex Fields Jr, whom they were holding at Albemarle Regional Jail.
He has been charged with "one count of second degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding, and one count of hit and run", according to a police statement.
Fields is accused of deliberately plowing a car into a group of people who were protesting against a white supremacist march, in what local police chief Al Thomas has called a "premeditated" and "unacceptable" attack.
He confirmed that a 32 year-old woman had been killed.
Fields was detained in the moments following the suspected attack, which occurred at approximately 1pm, shortly after Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe had declared a state of emergency in the city ahead of anticipated clashes between participants in the nationalist right wing march and counter demonstrators.
United States President Donald Trump took to Twitter to condemn the attack, writing that "We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!".
He later expressed his "condolences to the family of the young woman killed today, and best regards to all of those injured, in Charlottesville, Virginia. So sad!"
The "Unite the Right" march was organized to protest the removal of a statue honoring Gen. Robert E. Lee, commander of the Confederate Army in the 19th-century American Civil War.
Virginia State Police were also investigating another incident in which a police helicopter crashed just outside the city, leaving both the pilot and passenger dead.
It was not immediately clear if the air crash was connected to the rally and counter protests, although police have said that "there is no indication of foul play being a factor".