August 13, 2017 Law enforcement officials in Charlottesville, Virginia said on Sunday that a man suspected of intentioning driving a vehicle into a crowd of protesters at Saturday’s “Unite the White” rally has ties to Nazi-sympathizer groups.
Charlottesville Police identified the driver of the silver Dodge Charger used to strike a crowd of counter-protesters Saturday afternoon as 20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr. of Ohio. The attack left 32-year-old Heather Heyer dead and 19 others injured.
Fields faces one second-degree murder charge and three counts of malicious wounding and one count of failing to stop at an accident that resulted in death according to the superintendent of the Albemarle Regional Jail.
The Anti-Defamation League circulated a picture late Saturday showing Fields demonstrating with members of Vanguard America, a white nationalist group involved in Saturday’s protest. The group issued a statement denying that Fields is an official member.
Federal investigators say Fields Jr., recently moved to Ohio from Kentucky. In an interview with the Associated Press on Sunday, Fields’ mother, Samantha Bloom, said her son was attending a rally for President Trump — not white nationalists. Bloom also said her son has an African American friend.
Adding to Saturday’s tragedy in Charlottesville, two Virginia State Police troopers, identified as Lt. H. Jay Cullen, 48, and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, 40, were killed when their police helicopter monitoring the rally crashed in nearby Albemarle County, according to the state police.
U. S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced late Saturday that federal authorities will pursue a civil rights investigation into the circumstances surrounding the crash. Investigators want to know whether Fields crossed state lines with the intent to commit violence.
Cynthia Hodges holds a M.A. in Political Science from NEIU in Chicago, Illinois and a Post-Grad Professional Certificate in Disaster and Terrorism Management from University of North Carolina -Chapel Hill. In addition to a successful writing career, Cynthia is in the process of writing a book on the role of private security guards as first responders in the post 9/11 America. "My career has been a balance of security and education, and my passion for Homeland Security while protecting individual's Constitutional rights has grown as a result of the two."